2. Dakota Hudson
Remember when John Mozeliak said the Cardinals had six starters this past offseason? Well, Dakota Hudson was that lucky number six, and after finally getting a chance with St. Louis again, he's looked a lot better than he did in 2022.
Remember, before he had Tommy John surgery, Hudson was a very productive young arm for St. Louis. In 2019, he started 32 games and went 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA in 174.2 innings. The underlying metrics were never kind to him though, and finally caught up with Hudson last season. In 139.2 innings, he saw his ERA rise to 4.45, and he eventually lost his spot in the rotation.
Hudson began the year in Triple-A, and honestly, didn't look good. In 11 starts, he had a 6.00 ERA, and it looked like he was well on his way to being non-tendered in the offseason.
Upon his return to St. Louis though, he's actually better than he did the last calendar year as a starter. In 5 starts so far, he's posted a 4.00 ERA, has gone deep into games, and is 4-0 in those starts. Am I trying to sell him as the next great thing? No. But could that be a serviceable number-five starter? For sure.
Something interesting to note about his struggles in Triple-A while finding success at the Major League level this year. Jeff Jones talked about this in a recent story, but MLB has actually been experimenting with the automatic strike zone in Triple-A in games this year, and it has dramatically changed the strike zone. It's no wonder we are seeing so many pitchers struggle at that level this year.
As we currently stand, Hudson would be their second-best depth option on the roster, and I think that's a pretty nice place to be in for St. Louis. If injuries arise and they need a guy to fill in for a month, Hudson is more than adequate to take on that role. The number one guy on this list has the potential to be even more than that.