The 2013 St. Louis Cardinals emerged from the 2013 Major League Baseball season as the champions of the National League Central Division and losers to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. A year filled with young, unproven talent, most didn’t know what to expect from the Cardinals. However, the youthful squad and its savvy veterans made yet another mesmerizing postseason run thanks to some impressive young pitching, leading us to the question…. What can we expect from the starting pitchers in 2014?
The Cardinals, through stellar scouting and development of their farm system, have been blessed with a plethora of young arms. Adam Wainwright, the team ace coming off of his first full season of post Tommy-John production, will yet again be called on to account for about 220 innings of front of the rotation pitching. At 31, Wainwright’s production shouldn’t see a dip, and we can expect another strong, potentially Cy Young caliber season from him.
Jaime Garcia, the 26 year old left hander, is returning from a fairly serious shoulder surgery that sidelined him for the entirety of the 2013 season. The Cardinals did not have a left handed starter penciled into their rotation every week, so his return and impact will be felt immediately. The matchup problems Garcia presents, along with already twice being a thirteen win pitcher in his career will comfortably fill the number two, three, or even four spot in the rotation.
Perhaps the most exciting notion for Cardinals fans was the emergence of their two young fireballers, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha. At 22 and 21 respectively, Miller and Wacha looked like seasoned veterans during the course of the 2013 season. An early call up, Miller carved his way through the National League, posting a 15-9 (Baseball Reference) record en route to a third place finish in rookie of the year voting. Wacha, a late season call up, was lights out in the playoffs, seemingly pulling the Cardinals to the World Series singlehandedly in key games and earning National League Championship Series MVP. The two of them project to be top of the rotation pitchers, and they’ll sit behind Wainwright in the rotation.
The fifth spot in the rotation is interesting, as there is an abundance of potential quality starters in the Cardinals system. Joe Kelly, a spot starter last season for the Cardinals emerged as a 10 game winner (Baseball Reference), but Lance Lynn won 15 (Baseball Reference) games and has shown strong improvement throughout the last few years. Additionally, Carlos Martinez, already drawing comparisons to pitching great Pedro Martinez at the young age of 21 can also compete for a starting role.
Regardless of how the fifth spot is filled, the Cardinals have a lot of options, which will bode well for them in case of injury and help to bolster their bullpen. The outlook for the Cardinals is bright, not only for this season, but for years to come due to the youth and talent of the pitching staff. Look for the Cardinals to
contend for another National League Central Division title and yet again be World Series candidates.