The Cardinals played with fire this offseason and might get burned by Gray's injury

The Cardinals knew the risks of not adding another front-line starter this offseason, and Sonny Gray's hamstring scare shows just how thin they are.
Feb 15, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray, left, talks with
Feb 15, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray, left, talks with / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that the St. Louis Cardinals were a Sonny Gray injury away from their rotation having major issues during the 2024 season.

While I've talked about the way the Cardinals raised their rotation's floor this offseason by improving the back end of that group, the way they went about fixing their pitching staff always hinged upon Gray remaining healthy and performing at a high level, and they are now feeling the burn from that risky decision making.

Even if Gray's hamstring tightness is just a minor blip in the radar for him, there's a good chance it will impact his availability come Opening Day, and it also reveals the massive problem the Cardinals have when he's not in the rotation.

Instead of going out and acquiring two front-line starters this offseason, the Cardinals elected to add a pair of innings eaters in Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson with their newly cemented ace. We've talked about this all offseason, but that means the Cardinals have effectively decided to bank on a rotation of one front-line starter and four back-end starters to get them through the 162-game season.

Yes, injuries happen, and the Cardinals know that as well as anyone, but in their minds, they could mostly weather those with their depth of Zack Thompson, Matthew Liberatore, and other young arms in their system. What they don't have a solid plan for is how they can replace someone like Gray if a situation like this occurs.

While the Cardinals are going to want to understand the severity of Gray's hamstring injury before they make any roster decisions, it's even clearer now that grabbing an arm like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery is what they need to do. They may try and scrape by and acquire another lower-end arm to get them through this stretch, but that would be a massive mistake.

The Cardinals played with fire, and we'll wait to see how bad this "burn" is. Even if it's only a first-degree burn, it should light a fire underneath them to go out and get true insurance at the top of their rotation, as even if Gray is healthy, they still need another guy to support him at the front of the rotation.