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The Cardinals may be dealing with a depth problem on the mound when the 2021 season begins.
The St. Louis Cardinals made a huge splash this offseason by trading for Nolan Arenado. But the team remained rather quiet in the free agent market.
The two main moves were bringing back Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on one-year deals. Getting Wainwright back in particular was huge because the team didn’t exactly upgrade the starting rotation at all.
Miles Mikolas is now out with shoulder issues and top free agents are already off the board. FanSided MLB insider Robert Murray noted this problem in his latest column and the failure to add pitching depth stands out as a top surprise surrounding this team so far in 2021.
Cardinals may have waited too long to add a reliable starter
“The Cardinals would benefit from an external addition, but the best options in a limited market include Rick Porcello and Homer Bailey,” Murray wrote in his column. “Jake Odorizzi was on their radar before he signed with the Houston Astros, but they were never considered a frontrunner, according to sources familiar with the situation.”
The team may just be hoping all the internal options are suitable at the backend of the rotation. Jack Flaherty, Kwang Hyun Kim, and Wainwright are the top three in the rotation. Next up could be Carlos Martinez, but he had a brutal 2020 season as a starter. He has also not been a full-time starter since the 2017 season.
2021 is supposed to be a year where the Cardinals go all-in for a World Series. Molina and Wainwright are back on one-year deals and the team is paying a ton of money to Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt with the goal of a championship in mind.
The worst-case scenario would be the lack of pitching depth sinking the team’s chances in what would be a difficult National League Central division to win.
A likely outcome would be seeing the cuts made at the end of spring training and bringing a veteran aboard while Mikolas remains out. Doing that and having Martinez return to his old ways could erase all these worries that are there right now.