Cardinals should look no further than Nolan Arenado’s former team for pitching help

Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals

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The St. Louis Cardinals are in the market for starting pitching, and Nolan Arenado’s former team has a viable solution.

Nolan Arenado made his unhappiness with the Colorado Rockies clear, and the St. Louis Cardinals ultimately got one of the best third baseman in baseball without having to give up much. Now, the Cardinals should be taking a look at a deal with the Rockies again.

The Rockies are clearly a seller as the trade deadline creeps closer. In a case of bad luck, two prime trade candidates who would fetch a nice return (shortstop Trevor Story, starting pitcher Jon Gray) are on the IL right now. Story (elbow) may be returning soon, but Gray just went on the IL Saturday with a right flexor strain.

If the Cardinals had Game 1 of a playoff series today, Adam Wainwright would get the start. In 2010, that would’ve been pretty good. In 2021, a 39-year old right-hander with a 4.19 ERA is not a staff ace. Their actual ace, Jack Flaherty, is out indefinitely with what’s been deemed to be a “significant” oblique issue. Even if Flaherty was healthy, the Cardinals need some starting pitching help.

MLB rumors: The Rockies have a solution for the Cardinals

If Gray were healthy, he’d certainly be on the Cardinals’ radar as a trade target in the coming weeks. But the Rockies have another starter who should be on their radar if he’s not already.

Entering his scheduled start Sunday against the Oakland A’s, German Marquez has a 4.13 ERA over 65.1 innings this season (12 starts) with two complete games. But throw out an ugly outing May 4 against the San Francisco Giants (eight runs allowed over two-thirds of an inning), and his ERA is 3.06 over his other 11 starts. Over his last five starts, since that disastrous start, he has a 1.97 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks over 32 innings. Narrowing further, he has allowed two runs on nine hits over his last three starts (20 innings).

Marquez is locked in under contract through 2023, at affordable rates ($7.5 million this year, $11 million in 2022 and $15 million in 2023). Then he’s got a $16 million club option ($2.5 million buyout) for 2024. The Rockies could cash in those years of team control for a nice return in a trade.

Marquez has survived calling Coors Field home, with a 4.20 ERA and a 3.83 FIP since 2017. As an affordable mid-rotation arm who is pitching like an ace right now, the Cardinals may have to jump a growing line of contenders who are getting ready to make a deal.

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