The Cardinals were certainly busy this offseason in terms of adding pitching. They made sure to add depth to their minor-league system while also adding key pieces to the big-league staff.
Still, fans are underwhelmed, as they were hoping the Cardinals would pick up two frontline starters as opposed to one.
Either way, the Cardinals look a lot better heading into 2024 than they did heading into 2023. The pitching was at the very least addressed and holes were actually filled.
By no means are the Cardinals a World Series contender, but they could easily win a weak NL Central division.
How many games they'll win exactly is a matter of opinion. In this piece, we'll break down the Cardinals roster while I determine how many wins I think the Cardinals will end up with.
How many games will the Cardinals win in 2024?
We'll start by breaking down the NL Central as a whole.
While there's still time, the rest of the division hasn't really done a whole lot. Few of the moves made were truly earth-shattering.
The Brewers added Rhys Hoskins but have traded away Corbin Burnes. They also lost Craig Counsell, so I think they'll drop a few spots.
The Pirates are better, but still not a threat. That leaves the Cubs and Reds as the biggest threats in the division.
The Cubs plucked Counsell away from the Brewers and added Hector Neris, Shota Imanaga, and Michael Busch. But they still may lose Cody Bellinger.
The Reds have made some good frugal additions and added a few key veterans to the mix that will help supplement their young core. Frankie Montas is a good addition to the rotation, while Nick Martinez and Emilio Pagan should boost the bullpen.
And then we have the Cardinals, who signed Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson to fill out the rotation. The bullpen looks a lot better after the trade for Andrew Kittredge and the signing of Keynan Middleton.
Personally, I really like the bullpen and think that with some actual high-leverage additions, the Cardinals could be tough to deal with late in games. Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, and JoJo Romero should be key pieces, while John King could help as a middle-relief option.
More than anything, the Cardinals have plenty of depth in the bullpen thanks to the additions made at the trade deadline and offseason. Riley O'Brien, Sem Robberse, Adam Kloffenstein, Ryan Fernandez, and Nick Robertson are all intriguing.
Like most, I'm skeptical about the rotation. I'm confident in Sonny Gray being the ace and like having somebody who can pitch in playoff games. Gibson and Lynn, I'm worried about.
Both are 36 years old and had difficult seasons in 2023. They'll give you innings, but the quality of innings is what's most important.
I expect Miles Mikolas to bounce back and return to his 2022 form. Steven Matz showed promise late in the year as a starter, so I'm hoping he'll keep that up. His issue though is staying healthy. Having Zack Thompson is a good insurance policy, but the quality and age of the current rotation is certainly a red flag.
As far as the offense goes, I think a lot has to go right. I wrote a piece a while back about why the offense is a bigger problem than people realize. Contrary to perception, the offense struggled to score runs last year and was still over-reliant on the home run ball.
Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are both aging, so we don't know what we're going to get out of them, though they should be better than last year. I'm really excited about the team's young core featuring Nolan Gorman, Jordan Walker, Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Masyn Winn, and Lars Nootbaar.
I think Walker and Gorman are only getting better while Donovan and Edman are solid utility aces. The key for Nootbaar will be to stay healthy, but if he does, he's a valuable weapon. I'm excited to see how Winn develops, and I think Willson Contreras should also be able to build off of last year's success.
Of course, not everything is going to go right for the Cardinals this year. That's simply the case with any team, but the Cardinals are banking on a lot to go right again for them to be in World Series contention.
There will be players who struggle and some who get hurt. Because of that, I think it's clear that as currently constructed, St. Louis isn't a powerhouse. They can't compete with teams like the Phillies, Dodgers, and Braves.
That doesn't make them a bad team, but they aren't even a clear favorite in the NL Central. The division will be competitive, but not like the AL East, and I think the winner of this division, which I predict will be the Cardinals, won't win a whole bunch of games.
As currently constructed, I see the Cardinals as an 84 or 85-win team. They still lack a second frontline starter. Had they added that piece, I would see them as at least a 90-win club. But they didn't do that, and John Mozeliak doesn't appear terribly interested in adding more starters. You can listen to the audio of his interview with Tom Ackerman here.
Keep in mind that winning the NL Central won't be enough. The Cardinals need more to compete for a World Series title.