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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Jacob Barnes and Casey Lawrence

I've grouped these two together because their outlooks are so similar. Neither of these pitchers is coming back next season. Neither should be a member of the 2023 Cardinals. Their very presence signifies what a lost season this is. That's not meant as some kind of personal attack, and I have nothing against either of these players. But they are here because the Cardinals' top options have all been injured or traded, and because the Cardinals needed to fill innings without spending any extra money or prospect capital. Thus, they sign two aging journeymen.

Casey Lawrence has actually been solid in his limited appearances, but that doesn't really matter. Neither of them will see high-leverage situations unless there are literally zero other options. I'm somewhat surprised both of them are actually still on the roster, as Ryan Tepera was, at least in my opinion, a more interesting arm. While Tepera has seen legitimate big-league success, neither of these players has.

Other more interesting arms have popped up too, like Reynaldo López and Brent Honeywell. The Cardinals decided not to give either a look, which probably says more about their 40-man roster conundrum than it does about anything else. They are likely keeping these two around to avoid backing themselves into a corner and suffering a roster crunch, where they'd have to cut valuable players. By holding onto players with essentially zero value, they can ensure that they'll have enough roster space to acquire plenty of help this off-season, via both trade and free agency.

If there's anything these guys need to prove at all, it's that they simply deserve the opportunity to keep pitching. They're not going to have a place in St. Louis next year, and it's difficult to imagine either getting a major league deal. Instead, if they want to continue pitching, they'll hope to latch on somewhere and fulfill a similar role as a deep-depth piece.