John Mozeliak discusses potential remedies to Cardinals' fifth starter woes

The St. Louis Cardinals have a gaping hole at the back of the rotation, and John Mozeliak acknowledged the issue and proposed some solutions.
St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals have been scrambling to find a fifth starter after Steven Matz went down with a lower back strain in early May. The Cardinals have attempted to use Matthew Liberatore as a fifth starter, where he has struggled to a .342 opposing average in three starts, and the team has also gone the route of bullpen games. President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak spoke to Tom Ackerman on KMOX about the future of the rotation with Matz's uncertain return time and admitted that more production is needed from that spot.

Mozeliak mentioned a few potential solutions, including promoting Andre Pallante from Triple-A Memphis and using him in the role. Pallante was demoted early in the 2024 season and has a stellar 2.20 ERA in 16.1 innings, although he has also walked 13 batters. Pallante's presence in the rotation would likely slide Liberatore to a bullpen role, where he has been much more effective, pitching to an ERA of 3.78 and an opponent average of .232.

Mozeliak also tossed out the possibility of acquiring a pitcher via waivers or a trade. One free agent pitcher whom the Cardinals could consider is Brad Keller, who had a 4.86 ERA in 16.2 innings in 2024 before the Chicago White Sox designated him for assignment. While Keller is far from an exciting solution, he could likely provide five adequate innings on most days.

On the trade side, Buster Olney spoke on 101 ESPN about how the Miami Marlins would listen to trade offers about Jesus Luzardo, who has a 4.14 ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings for a hapless 18-35 Miami Marlins squad.

Yusei Kikuchi may be another option, as the Toronto Blue Jays have disappointed this season with a 23-28 record, but Kikuchi has delivered a career season to this point, accruing a 2.64 ERA. Kikuchi would likely be a rental given his status as a free agent following 2024, but if the Cardinals are determined to go for it during this hot streak, he may be the right choice and wouldn't require the same haul as Luzardo. 

With the Cardinals' offense waking up in recent weeks, the focus needs to be on the pitching side. Mozeliak acknowledged that the team has a few options at its disposal to fix the fifth starter conundrum. The division suddenly appears within reach, so the Cardinals must take action on whichever route the front office decides to embark on.