The St. Louis Cardinals' Starting Rotation Has Stunk So Far This Year

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The St. Louis Cardinals’ Starting Rotation Has Stunk So Far This Year

Chicago Cubs

Alone in last place in the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals are probably quite a bit better than their very early-season record. Essentially, all they’ve done is go through one of those rough stretches where you’d look back at their last ten games and say, oh, 3-7 in their last ten, eh? Yes, I like to make my jokes on Twitter and hang whimsically on the demise of the Cardinals, but the reality is that they are still likely the heavy favorites in the NL Central.

That, in turn, though, is why I like to follow their performance closely. If the Chicago Cubs are going to compete in the Central this year, they will – in addition to overcoming the Milwaukee Brewers – have to overcome the Cardinals. So, in whatever ways the Cardinals might be struggling or projected to struggle, that directly helps the Cubs.

Right now, it’s not subtle how the Cardinals are struggling:

Identified even before the season as the one area of potential concern for the Cardinals, the starting rotation has had it rough. They are missing Adam Wainwright, and outside of Jordan Montgomery, the performances have just been awful.

Some of that is this small-sample schedule. The Cardinals have faced the Blue Jays, Braves, and Brewers in three-game series so far, the first two of which figure to have very good offenses. Their most recent game was against the Rockies in Colorado, so that’s another tough one on starting pitchers.

Much of it, though, is simply about a rotation with a lot of question marks. Miles Mikolas, 34, seemed to dramatically overperform his peripherals last year. Steven Matz, 31, managed just 10 healthy (and kinda bad) starts last year. Jack Flaherty, 27, has barely pitched at all the last few years because of multiple injuries. The fill-in guys are meh. Only Montgomery looks to be solid. And even if Wainwright were healthy, he’s 41.

What I don’t want to do here is point to the catching transition from Yadi Molina to Willson Contreras as a culprit. Er, well, I *DO* want to point to that, because I do hope their pitchers underperform all year, but I don’t think it’d be fair to suggest that’s definitely an issue just ten games into the season.

It, like the health and effectiveness of the Cardinals rotation generally, will be something to watch this year. Through two turns, the Cardinals’ rotation has stunk. The bullpen has been decent and the offense is going to be outstanding. But can the starting pitchers do enough this year? That’s what we’re tracking.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.