The best- and worst-case scenarios for each player on the St. Louis Cardinals' active roster
Andre Pallante, RHP
Best-case scenario: Strong bullpen piece and spot starter
Andre Pallante’s reverse splits make him more of a weapon against left-handers than right-handers. If Pallante can use his slider more effectively by throwing it lower in the zone, he can be much more threatening against right-handers. The ground-ball artist also has the ability to be stretched out as a starter in case of an injury, and in an optimal scenario, he can be that reliable occasional starter as or serve as a bullpen mainstay.
Worst-case scenario: Bullpen liability and demotion
Pallante had some luck last season; he was near the bottom among pitchers in chase rate and whiff rate, and if he doesn’t adjust his arsenal to throw fewer fastballs and more sliders down in the zone, there could be rough seas ahead. Ineffectiveness in the bullpen would remove the possibility of occasional starts, and he might need to go to Memphis to make things right.
Wilking Rodriguez, RHP
Best-case scenario: Rounds out the bullpen
Wilking Rodriguez, the Cardinals’ Rule 5 selection in the major league portion of the draft, had a solid spring, throwing gas before being placed on the injured list with shoulder soreness. If he returns healthy with no ill effects, Rodriguez could emerge as a middle- or late-inning option with his triple-digit heater.
Worst-case scenario: Returned to the Yankees
If Rodriguez doesn’t prove productive after returning to the bullpen, provided he comes back from his injury, the Cardinals can’t demote him; rather, they would have to return him to his original team, the New York Yankees. Shoulder injuries are always concerning, and if Rodriguez struggles to retain his powerful arsenal or can’t command his pitches, the Cardinals may need to replace him.
Chris Stratton, RHP
Best-case scenario: Strong middle relief option
Chris Stratton’s metrics were uninspiring in 2022, but he boasts an elite curveball that he didn’t throw enough last year. If he adjusts his arsenal to feature that more under the tutelage of new pitching coach Dusty Blake, he could be a valuable veteran presence in the bullpen.
Worst-case scenario: Low-leverage or mop-up reliever
At 32, Stratton could reach the decline phase of his career soon, and if he doesn’t change his arsenal, batters’ high exit velocities and Stratton’s low strikeout numbers could come back to bite him more than they did last year. If that’s the case, the Cardinals might have to relegate him to pitching in low-leverage situations.