The Cardinals' veteran starters have proven their doubters wrong this season

The Cardinals' rotation has outperformed even the most optimistic of expectations and one more addition to this group would solidify it.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Remember how many people thought the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation would be bad again in 2024 and that the team did not improve that group from where it was in 2023? Well as we are getting closer and closer to the end of June, the Cardinals' rotation has far exceeded the most optimistic of expectations.

I for one was someone who thought their rotation plan was solid enough to win in 2024 due to their lineup and improved bullpen. The Cardinals had a bunch of guys who could eat innings and give them quality starts, as long as the offense produced like it needed to...

Well, the offense has not produced, and the rotation hasn't eaten the innings that I thought it would, and somehow, it's actually been more effective than I could have imagined.

Since May 18th, the Cardinals rotation ranks 4th in all of baseball in starter ERA (2.96) while ranking 19th in baseball in innings pitched. If you are a FIP kind of person, the Cardinals rank 2nd in baseball over that stretch as well. The Cardinals have found a recipe for success - allow their starters to face an opposing lineup two times through their order, have a quick hook ready if they get into trouble, and lean on the excellent play of their rather deep bullpen.

Is it how I thought this rotation would win games? Nope. But has it been highly effective? You bet.

Most of this success can be attributed to the four veterans in the Cardinals rotation - Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson, Miles Mikolas, and Lance Lynn. While the foursome of Steven Matz, Matthew Liberatore, Andre Pallnate, and Zack Thompson have all struggled in their cracks at starting, those four veterans have done their part for St. Louis, especially over the last month of the season.

Cardinals' Starters since May 18

ERA

FIP

K%

IP

STL record in starts

Sonny Gray (6 GS)

2.96

2.16

34.5%

27.1

3-2

Kyle Gibson (5 GS)

2.20

3.26

26.1%

28.2

4-2

Miles Mikolas (6 GS)

2.48

3.48

22.0%

36.1

4-2

Lance Lynn (5 GS)

2.96

2.99

23.4%

24.1

4-1

Sure, you'd like to get some more innings out of guys like Sonny Gray and Lance Lynn, but overall, the production all around has been what this team desperately needed. The season numbers for their starting rotation have been average at best, but considering they received ERAs between 6.18-8.10 in their 11 starts from Matz, Liberatore, and Thompson, it's easy to see how this rotation improves drastically with a trade before the deadline.

I know that this rotation doesn't stack up with the best in baseball, especially when you get to the postseason and teams will be throwing their top three guys. But it's more than good enough to get this team to the postseason, especially if the club can add another starter to the mix like they plan to do. The dream is adding a true number two starter, but even with that not being likely, an Erick Fedde, Tyler Anderson, or Nick Pivetta type would do wonders for this group.

And hey, the Arizona Diamondbacks just made the World Series on the backs of Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, neither of whom had an ERA below 3.29 during the regular season. Their other postseason hero in their rotation was Brandon Pfaadt, who posted a 5.72 ERA in 19 games before pitching in October. The Cardinals rotation won't make them favorites in any series, but it'll keep them in games and give them a fighting chance in the postseason.

I have to say, that's a pretty good place to be in considering most fans wrote off this rotation long before the season even began.

manual