Miles Mikolas, RHP
Best-case scenario: Repeat of last year
Miles Mikolas has been one of the Cardinals’ most consistent pitchers throughout his time with the team. He was the only Cardinals pitcher to eclipse 200 innings last season, and the team would love a season similar to 2022 where they can count on long outings nearly every time he takes the mound. His performance in the World Baseball Classic wasn’t spectacular, as he allowed nine hits in six innings, but a season like last year would be a huge boost to an iffy rotation.
Worst-case scenario: Pitch-to-contact approach falters
Pitchers who don’t have massive strikeout numbers and who pitch to contact have a thin margin for error, and with the shift being banned, Mikolas will likely see more balls find holes than in years past. Too many hits lead to higher pitch counts and fewer innings, and that would be catastrophic for a pitcher expected to go deep into games.
Jordan Montgomery, LHP
Best-case scenario: Strong second starter
Jordan Montgomery’s debut with the Cardinals after he came over from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline was a huge success. He changed his arsenal upon arriving in St. Louis, throwing far more four-seam fastballs and fewer sinkers. If Montgomery is able to garner more swings and misses and bump his 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings up a bit, he should provide quality innings as a No. 2 starter.
Worst-case scenario: Hitters adapt to his repertoire
Montgomery threw a metaphorical curveball to opponents in their scouting reports when he changed the frequency of his pitches, which could have given him an advantage with the Cardinals last season. His Spring Training performance was mediocre this year, with 17 hits and seven earned runs surrendered in 17 innings. If hitters have caught on to Montgomery’s new pitch strategies, it will be difficult for him to repeat last season’s results.
Taylor Motter, IF
Best-case scenario: Stays on the active roster all season
A strong spring with three home runs catapulted Taylor Motter onto the Opening Day roster when Paul DeJong went down with an injury. Motter has a chance to fend off DeJong when the latter returns, and if he plays well in his limited role, he could stay with the big league club as the last man on the roster.
Worst-case scenario: Optioned to Triple-A
If Motter’s spring doesn’t carry over to the big leagues, the Cardinals can use one of his options to have him serve as a depth piece in Memphis. DeJong, who has no options remaining, would likely replace Motter on the roster upon his return.