#3 - Question marks surrounding the rotation
On Opening Day 2022, the Cardinals rotation consisted of Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz, Dakoda Hudson, and Jordan Hicks. Although the club has a stronger five-man group entering the 2023 season, the struggles to field a rotation last season and now the lack of an ace have been frustrating to observe.
One thing that John Mozeliak is excellent at is acquiring innings during a postseason run. J.A. Happ, Jon Lester, and Wade LeBlanc were enough to keep the Cardinals afloat in 2021, and he outdid himself in 2022 with trades for Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery. Still, one has to wonder whether or not the club could have done more in 2022 if he did not have to slug through the early summer stretch where their starters were dropping like flies.
At this point, the club does not have the same innings issue that it has had in past years, but there is a gaping hole at the top of the rotation. Jack Flaherty has the ability to fill that void, but it is fair to criticize the front office for not having a reliable ace at this point for the club. Trades for a starter could still be on the horizon, but at this rate, it looks like the club will roll with their current options to begin 2023.
Some have suggested the Cardinals could use another arm regardless of whether they are an ace or not, but I could not disagree more. On top of their five-man group of Flaherty, Mikolas, Montgomery, Wainwright, and Matz, they have depth options such as Hudson, Jack Woodford, Matthew Liberatore, and Andre Pallante, as well as prospects Connor Thomas and Gordon Graceffo who could be in St. Louis by mid-season. At this time, there is no need to grab another middle-to-back end of the rotation starter.
It remains to be seen whether or not St. Louis will acquire a front-line starter to pair with Flaherty. If they are able to do so by the trade deadline, this frustration from 2022 could be forgotten about rather quickly.