The biggest red flags with each of the Cardinals' starting pitching targets

The starting pitchers that look to be available this offseason come with a lot of question marks
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Aaron Nola: Will he regain his ace form?

Aaron Nola is the name that has been most commonly linked to the Cardinals, and for good reason. Even before the season began, Nola just felt like a future Cardinal based on his mentality as a pitcher.

Throughout his career, Nola has been a guy who can post a sub-3.60 ERA while pitching 200+ innings and striking out about 10 batters per 9 innings. Was he one of the five best starters in baseball? No. But any given year he could be among the Cy Young candidates and lead a playoff rotation.

This year has been a major step back for Nola, so much so that it's time to be very concerned about his future as a top-end starter.

Nola now has a 4.62 ERA on the season in 181 innings of work, and after a bit of a rebound during the month of August, he's posted an 8.56 ERA in September in his three starts. Not good. His strikeout numbers are down, WHIP is up, and he's allowing a lot of home run balls.

At just 30 years old, there's reason to believe he's having a weird year and can bounce back from it in 2024, but if he's really going to command a long-term deal at $25-$30 million per year, that's really risky.