What each Cardinal pitcher has to prove during the final stretch

Every Cardinal still has something to play for, even though the team is on the brink of elimination. Today, we'll break down what each member of the pitching staff must prove over the final weeks of the season!
Thompson faces off against the Cincinnati Reds
Thompson faces off against the Cincinnati Reds / Aaron Doster/GettyImages
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Drew Rom

Rom is the natural next step in this conversation. He's in a very similar position to Thompson, though their patterns of success within the Cardinals organization are inverted. After being acquired as part of the Jack Flaherty trade, Rom thrived with Memphis, earning a call-up after a series of excellent outings. It made sense for the Cardinals to promote him so quickly. But, in the bigs, he's struggled. He owns a 7.79 ERA, and his 6.72 FIP isn't much better. He's walking way too many hitters, and the strikeouts that came easily in Memphis are proving to be elusive in St. Louis. To put it succinctly, it hasn't looked good.

Thompson, on the other hand, looked terrible in Memphis. In nine starts with Memphis in 2023, he pitched abysmal, posting an ERA of 8.65. He wasn't much better before either. But, after being called up in 2022, Thompson was outstanding. In a bullpen role, he produced a 2.08 ERA in 34.2 innings. He ascended to the top of the bullpen pecking order quickly and seemed poised for another strong season in 2023. Then, the Cardinals decided he'd be converted back into a starter.

After the aforementioned disastrous run with Memphis, he was once again summoned to St. Louis. Steven Matz's injury thrust him back into a starting role, and he has inexplicably succeeded. In his last seven appearances, each of which has lasted four innings or more, Thompson has a 3.71 ERA and an even more encouraging 3.54 FIP.

I know this is supposed to be the Drew Rom section, but this comparison is worth discussing. What on earth could be contributing to this success? And why does it seem to come at the expense of Drew Rom's success? It's baffling! Regardless, Rom is poised to continue receiving opportunities. Steven Matz is unlikely to return, and even if he does, he'll almost surely return to the bullpen. Rom must make the best of his remaining starts.

Considering his youth, it's not a make-or-break stretch, but floundering in the season's final month could result in a drop on the depth chart. He's already fallen behind Thompson, but Alex Kloffenstein, Gordon Graceffo, and even Sem Robberse are now nipping at his heels. I've written about Rom a number of times, and I believe in his future success, but it is vital that he show improvement as the season draws to a close.