Entering camp, the expectation was that Carlos Martinez would regain his standing as a member of the Cardinals’ starting five. That may ultimately come to pass, though he’ll first need to work back to full strength. In Martinez’s absence, Mark Saxon of The Athletic tweets, the Cards will utilize either John Gant or Dakota Hudson to round out the rotation.
Gant, 26, is one of several out-of-options Cardinals hurlers. He pitched to a 3.47 ERA last year in 114 frames over 19 starts and seven relief appearances. The results came in spite of a marginal combination of 7.5 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 with a 45.1% groundball rate. Gant’s success was driven largely by suppression of home runs (0.71 per nine) and batting average on balls in play (.253), the sustainability of which is questionable. If he’s not in the rotation, Gant will either need to find a landing spot in the bullpen or be exposed to waivers.
Options abound for Hudson, a 24-year-old former first-round pick. He could begin the season as the fifth big-league starter, take a job in the MLB pen, or stay stretched out in the Triple-A rotation. In 19 starts last year at the highest level of the minors, Hudson worked to a 2.50 ERA over 111 2/3 innings with 7.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 to go with a hefty 57.5% groundball rate. The worm-burners kept coming during his 26-appearance foray into the Cards pen. Though he managed only 19 strikeouts against 18 walks in his first 27 1/3 MLB frames, Hudson allowed nary a home run. That’s no fluke; Hudson has permitted only eight long balls in over three hundred professional innings pitched.
Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon are other 40-man members that might have been seen as possibilities. Each started MLB contests last year but has evidently already been ruled out of the Opening Day rotation race. As the news further suggests, hugely talented youngster Alex Reyes is also out of the mix to open the season as a starter. But that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily be optioned at the end of camp. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets, manager Mike Shildt says that Reyes will be considered for a relief post. Reyes, 24, is working back from significant shoulder and elbow surgeries and will surely face innings limitations.
Midsummer heat and humidity at Cards home games would wipe out any front five.
They have two decent guys and this is supposed to be the rotation that blows away the NL Central. Good joke
Who is saying they are supposed to blow away the NL Central? Most predictions I have seen barely show them beating out the Brewers.
It’s legitimately better than the Cubs with Lester and Quintana getting worse year by year obviously not terribly worse their effectiveness is burning up slowly
That’s just not true on Lester. He had a down 2017 but rebounded in 2018. You have a legitimate argument on Quintana. Not sure how you can say the Cardinals are legitimately better. Potentially, maybe.. I don’t think anyone knows for sure what to expect from the Cardinals rotation. Its full of unproven rookies, players coming off injured seasons and Mikolas who has a lot of upside but I think most would agree he might not repeat 2018.
Lester is toast.
Lester is done. All anyone has to do is look at his peripherals. 2018 wasn’t a permanent rebound at all.
He is projected to be their worst starter in 2019
If Lester ends up being the Cubs worst starter in 2019 it’s going to be pretty good season for the Cubs. Kudos to Android Dawesome for being able to decipher nmendoza’s post. I have read it 30 times and left my “Hooked on Phonics” decoder kit at home today so I wasn’t quite sure if he was trolling the Cubs on a Cardinals article or not.
Last year was a career year for Mikolas. Theres no real upside to him. Just a higher floor than most because of the impeccable control.
The only thing Lester rebounded in 2018 from 2017 was his ERA. His periphs clearly show a declining player.
Pitchers with K/9 below 7.50 don’t sustain LOB rates over 80%, or even over 75%. Lester is due for a massive regression to a mid 4 ERA.
Dropping K rate, raising BB rate, Dropping GB rate, had the second to worst LD rate among all starters last year. It’s not looking good for Lester moving forward unless he can figure out how to turn father time.
To think he rebounded means you are only capable of looking at ERA
Lester really is their 5th starter. Q, Hamels, Hendricks, and Darvish are all there. I’d take Lester over John Gant who also had garbage peripherals.
His periphs were significantly better than Lester’s.
Find the Jo(h)n
As starters in 2018
Pitcher A – 22.7 LD%, 44.4 GB%, 19.6 K%, 11.6 BB%, 0.7 HR/9, 4.11 FIP – age 25 season
Pitcher B – 25.8 LD%, 37.7 GB%, 19.6 K%, 8.4 BB%, 1.2 HR/9, 4.39 FIP – age 34 season
Who would you rather have as your 5th starter entering this next season? The 26 year old who was better at every thing but walk rate (marginally) or the 34 year old who can’t throw a pick off to first base?
@JFactor. That was one of the best posts I’ve ever seen on here. Kudos.
Yeah, I’m sure if you were the manager of a baseball team, you would pick Hasn’t over Lester. Can I have what your smoking? Give me a break!
That should read Gant over Lester
I’ll take the superior performing player over the inferior player, regardless of name recognition
How about innings pitched? That’s an important number you left off. Lester 180 innings 32 starts. Gant 114 on 19 starts and 7 relief Appearances. Let’s see how repeatable that is over a full season of work. I’ll bet on Lester being able to make adjustments in his old age as well with his declining stuff.
More than one ERA estimator out there. SIERA pegged Gant at 4.88 and xFIP had him sitting at 4.66. Both pegged Lester a little bit lower than that. The numbers tell me it’s a toss up but I’ll take the guy who has the experience and made it through 180 frames last year. Until I’m proven orherwise
Until proven differently take the Hall of Famer—–peripherals are shown on paper…..
Lester has five straight years of declining peripherals, and is entering his age 35 season.
Maybe Gant won’t be guaranteed to better, but Lester is certainly toast (the argument being made).
I’ll take the guy with the WS ringS
I’ll take the guy with the WS ring(s) and the proven track record.
Take the guy 11 years older because he was once on a good team.
100% wrong. Martinez will be fine when healthy, Wacha will be okay if healthy, and guys like Flarherty, Gomber, Poncedeleon, Gant, and Hudson could all be good starters this year in my mind. That’s not even mentioning the Lizard King. (who will probably not preform as we this year, but still solidly)
‘shiny new toy syndrome’. The Cubs and Brewers are largely the same teams they were last season, so the Cardinals look newer and in the minds of the easily distracted, the just equates to better. Throw in hefty doses of recency bias and small sample sizes, it’s easy to talk oneself into believing it.
The fact that just about ant starter on the Cubs not named Chatwood would be no worse than a no. 3 on the Cardinals, including Mike Montgomery, then it starts to fall apart on serious critical analysis
No, they have two well-known guys. There’s a difference. Don’t confuse name recognition with talent. Nobody knows about Flaherty, Gant, Hudson, even Mikolas to a certain extent. That doesn’t mean they aren’t decent. Because they’re much more than that.
I still think Gant deserves more credit for having to overhaul his delivery and still be fairly successful after the MLB singled out and outlawed his “balk” delivery.
Ole boy reminds me of Bob Tewksbury as far as getting the most out of his stuff & maximizing his limited toolset compared to his peers.
Except for the whole throwing 95 vs 84 mph bit.
Keep Reyes in the bullpen. He and Hicks as 8th and 9th inning guys could be a lights out duo to end the game. Add in Andrew Miller and it’s easily the best trio in the Central and possibly the NL. Phillies and Mets are in that mix too though.
Cardinals should sign Keuchel if they can keep a deal to 3 years. Even if it is at an overpay on the AAV like $20M or something. There’s a lot of free agents to be on this team after this year with no confidence that any will be resigned. They need to go all in this year and Keuchel would help a lot.
That’s why they extended Mikolas. With him, Martinez, Flaherty, and two of the other young kids, their rotation is still set for years to come.
Rather than offer Keuchel 3/60mil, use it to extend Wacha for 4/60mil.
Yes Keuchel throws more IP per season but Wacha is of the same quality (3.15 career fwar/200IP vs 3.10), and much younger.
There is enough depth if Wacha’s IP come up short. Wacha is very tough on lhb’s.
Wacha isn’t worth 4/60….
Relative to Keuchel for 3/60, I’ll take Wacha at the 4/60.
15 mill a year on wacha is insane. signing him for 4 years is even more insane.
Over his last 4 seasons Wacha has averaged 25.5 GS. I’m not afraid of his 2018. I’ll take his prime yrs for 15 AAV.
Ok we are using Ace way to loosely Waino, the big unit, Roger Clemons, Kershaw, those guys are what aces were and or are the Cards may have someone that could be but nobody close now.
Who said ace?
Why oh why would you clog up your rotation with a guy on the wrong side of 30 for way more money than he needs to be paid? Unless Keuchel just tears it up this year, I would be willing to bet all 5 pitchers in the Cardinals rotation would outperform him. There is just way too much young talent.
They can’t keep the deal to 3 years. If your keuchel the mindset is either 5 years or year-to-year until the current CBA expires and the luxury tax cap gets upped dramatically
Gio G. on a 1year deal (with a higher AAV) to man the 4th spot would be prime IMO especially considering that the Redbirds haven’t had a competent lefty-starter in some time.
I think Gio is worth a flyer on a one year deal but it would have to be a minor league deal to start. Gotta see about Gant and then try to trade him if he flops
Without obviously many suitors, a MLD might get it done although it’s getting late in camp & after the Holland late signing last year, being gun shy is understandable…
Lefty starters are highly overrated. The Cardinals have had a ton of success without many of them over the last couple of decades.
Besides, there’s simply no room for anyone else in the rotation once Martinez recovers. They already have quality starting depth up the wazoo, so they might as well use some of it now.
Lots of ?’s in that rotation. There’s enough talent in the pool of rotation candidates to make that rotation the best in the central, but it could easily go the opposite direction due to unproven young starters and Martinez Reyes and wacha being made of glass. I’d love to see them make a move for keuchel or even gio to lock down a spot and give some solidity. Upgraded the offense and bullpen already, now it’s time to push all the chips in
Mikolas is a legitimate ace, as is Martinez once he’s healthy, and Flaherty is already pretty proven. Meanwhile, they’ve got so much quality depth that surely someone among them should be able to lock down a rotation spot or two over the course of the season. There’s simply no room for anyone else.
Legitimate aces need to strike out better than 6.5/9. He’s good(for one season), but nobody would consider him an ace.
stan lee the manly
Well that’s just not true. Legitimate aces need to suppress runs, that’s their job. Strikeouts mean jack if they are doing their job, it doesn’t really matter how.
On a related note, there are a lot of people that consider him an ace. Because he was an ace last year.
Not to mention legit aces usually have a track record longer than a season which considering I’ve seen folks like Ken Bottenfield win 18 games in one year, I think that monicker is a bit premature but to each their own…
Lolz on the totally not apt Bottenfield comp! That season he had was all smoke and mirrors and it’s direct evidence that the pitcher win is the most useless stat in baseball. He had a 4.75 FIP and was worth 2.3 WAR that year, so basically he was not as good as Mike Leake’s worst season. Mikolas is projected at basically 3 WAR, and those factor in his only having 1 good year in MLB, but he was also dominant in Japan for 3 years prior and learned his insanely elite control. He has 4 above average pitches and induces mostly weak contact.
ACE is a word meant for year after year studs who put up big numbers. It’s not meant for a one hit wonder who had to go to Japan to revive his career. Mikolas may be just another overpaid guy by the time 2019 comes to an end.
Or he may be an all star and Cy Young finalist like he was last year. The projections seem to think so. Also, what do you consider CMart? He has been top 20 in MLB by WAR every year since beginning as a starter. I bet you don’t consider him an “ace” based on this comment.
“Unproven”: The word to use when facts are in your way.
Everyone is unproven at some point. You can’t let other teams “prove” guys and then pay too much for them. Eventually you have to let the talent play.
Agreed… a Keuchel or Gio G signing would be a great move at the right price/years.
I am sure Keuchel wants five years… but may settle for 4 plus option year if he can keep the red squirrel on his chin.
Jason d r
The cards definitely need to add another arm. On paper 4 out of five of the nl central teams are pretty close. Who knows how the division will actually play out. Everyone should definitely keep an eye on the reds this year.
I feel like they have 9 starting options that I’d rather see get a shot than anyone that is outside of the organization.
Why didn’t they just spend 3 mil and get Clay Buchholz he was amazing last year and waiting to be had.
Probably because his FIP was a run and a half higher than his ERA, he put up essentially a career low BABIP and he has durability issues.
Vandals Took The Handles
Because they have 5 pitchers better than Buchholz.
Time to start playing the young arms the FO likes to slobber over every chance they get. Hudson is MLB ready. Gant can spot start.
Yeah, I would like to see Hudson get the nod as the fifth guy. Who knows about Waino, but if he struggles, Martinez should be ready to replace him. Underestimating Flaherty is foolish, the guy has ace written all over him. Sure some guys could get hurt, but that can be said about just about anybody. Gant proved last year that he could get the job done if necessary. With so many options adding a Keuchel or Gonzales would just be redundant, and I don’t think Gonzales would out perform either Gomber or Ponce de Leon. With Reyes waiting in the wings the Cards don’t need to add to the rotation. Downgrading Mikolas because of his strikeout percentage has little merit, the guy pitches to contact, has two very good breaking balls, and can hit 97 when he needs it, underestimate him at your peril. And if Wainwright can give them innings, a 4.00 ERA as a fifth guy they will have 2 or 3 guys who still will be blocked or added to the rotation.
It will be interesting to see how the bull pen shakes out. A combo of Miller, Reyes, Hicks, and Martinez would make them the best 4 group in the game. So where does that leave the rest? Shreve is probably a lock, with Leone, Mayers, Brebbia all in the mix, and that still leaves Cecil, Webb, Gomber, Ponce de Leon, and one of Gant/Hudson. My guess is Gomber, Ponce, and Webb all go to AAA. Leone and Brebbia still have options, so if they go with 12 guys then one of them heads to Memphis. Cecil has Major League protection, so who knows if he is included, if so then one of Leone or Brebbia get bounced to AAA.
Lester is toast, said the insecure Cardinal fan.
Lester isn’t toast, but he isn’t an ace either. A lot depends on Darvish. Personally, I see him as neither bust nor ace, kinda a #3. Hendricks is steady. I’m not optimistic about Quintana. The Cards have beaten up on him recently, but at times he can produce. Hamels projects as a #2, but I’m not sure that plays at this time of his career, more like a reliable #3. All in all I say the Cubs’ rotation is so-so, no definite ace, and left-handed heavy, so either Gonzales or Keukel makes no sense, plus they don’t have the cash anyway. The defense will help of course, but the offense while good isn’t overwhelming. They will be in the mix, but I think they are the third best team in the division, but with the strength of the division, that puts them in contention down to the wire. Granted I am biased toward the Red Birds, but I like their improved defense, thump from Goldschmidt, and of course their pitching. A lot depends on their outfield offensive production. I give them the edge over the Brewers, but not by much. Nobody is running away with this division with the improved Pirates and Reds. 88 wins could take the division.
Agree. I really have to believe the Cubs season comes down to Darvish. If he can figure it out, they’ll be right there, but if not, Lester is winding down, Quintana is not an ace, and the Cubs will be without a really good SP to lead them. The Cards have not only 1 in Mikolas, but another in Flaherty.
Lester is definitely toast, it’s in his peripheral. League worst line drive rate, rising bb rate, declining k rate, entering his age 35 season. He survived last year because of sequencing, that’s it. He won’t repeat a 80% lob rate with those batted ball and k/bb rates. I expect a 4.50 ERA year.
Cubs have plenty to look forward to, but Lester isn’t it. The proof is in the numbers.
Injuries will determine the NL central this year,Cards ,Brewers ,Cubs hell even the Reds are getting scary with their lineup.A few bad breaks and it’s a wide open division that’s going to beat each other up.
Cubs still top of the Class with all the injuries they had last year it still took a miracle run from the Brew Crew to dethrone them
And a really poor choice of hitting coaches.
It was the offense that failed them late in the year, not the pitching. But the narrative seems fixated on Darvish and his injury.
If Reyes and Martinez pitch less than 200 innings combined the rotation is going to be pretty bad.
That’s roughly 4 wins in a tight division.
Really? That leaves Mikolas, Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, Hudson, and Gant. With Gomber and Ponce de Leon if needed. Seems like they will be fine even if Reyes and Martinez cannot log a lot of innings.
Carlos Martinez is finished as a premier starter in the major leagues. He does not have the mentality or work ethics to be any thing but a bullpen man in 2019. He’s currently a questionable person even in the bullpen. He currently pitches scared he is going to hurt himself if he throws wide open. By his current mindset, it’s altering his mechanics. No pitcher has ever come back from all of the things listed above. A starter… no. A bullpen man with velocity and control….. I don’t think he’ll make that grade either. If I’m wrong….I’ll be a very happy Cardinal fan. Ready to eat crow!!!
Who cares about Lester and the Cubs.