Cleat Geeks

Into the Cardinals Nest: How Should the Starting Pitcher Rotation Look in 2016?

The Cardinals have had great successes the past few seasons.  This is largely due to the fact that they have one of the best pitching staffs in MLB. The Cardinals’ pitchers rise to the occasion when their offense is struggling and can usually keep their team in games that they otherwise cannot win. With the NL Central likely being tougher than ever and the rival Cubs being considered the heavy favorites to not only dethrone the Cards for the division title but also win the World Series. A strong pitching rotation is necessary if the Cardinals wish to keep their place atop the NL Central.

AdamWainwrightEvery great team puts their ace pitcher first, when it comes to pitching. In the Cardinals’ case, their best pitcher is Adam Wainwright.  He had a 1.61 ERA with 20 strikeouts during his shortened season in 2015.  The key for the Cardinals will be keeping him healthy throughout the season as he is prone to injuries that take him out early on only for him to return during the playoffs. If he stays healthy throughout the season, the Cardinals will be very difficult to stop when he’s on the mound.JaimeGarcia2

Jaime Garcia is the #2 man in the rotation. In terms of performance in 2015, he did very well. He won 10 of 20 games he started and had an ERA of 2.43, the second lowest ERA on the team next to Wainwright. He also had 97 strikeouts. While Garcia had a higher ERA than Wainwright, it is important to keep in mind that Garcia was able to play more games in the season to earn it while Wainwright was gone for most of the season due to injury and couldn’t play until the playoffs.  Garcia has been known to not play well when he isn’t 100% but If he remains healthy, expect another dominating year from him.

Carlos Martinez gets the #3 spot. He had a 3.01 ERA and won 14 of 29 starts in 2015. He had an impressive 184 strikeouts to his credit that season as well.  He has proven he can get strikeouts when the team needs them most and that’s what makes him such an asset. While he has let his fair share of runs in, it’s only possible to score off any pitcher if you get the ball in play and against Carlos Martinez, that is real tough to do.

Wacha Takes OverThe #4 spot in the rotation goes to Michael Wacha. He had a lot of good games in 2015 but he has a lot to prove this season. While he did win 17 of 30 starts, and accumulated 154 strikeouts he lost a lot of the magic touch he had in his two earlier seasons with the Cards. He had a 3.38 ERA last season and he gave up 162 hits total with 74 of them resulting in runs. A lot of Wacha’s success or lack thereof will depend on whether he can find the groove he had in 2014 or even the year before.

Photo by; AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Photo by; AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The last spot in the rotation goes to the Cardinals’ newest starting pitcher Mike Leake. He had a 3.70 ERA in 2015 overall. He did well enough while he was with Cincinnati, managing an ERA of 3.56 with 90 strikeouts but after his move to San Francisco. his ERA slumped to 4.07 with a mere 29 strikeouts. He is brand new to the Cards so it is impossible to say whether he will make a great showing in St. Louis but for now, I’d keep him low in the rotation until I was sure he had his best stuff.

A great pitching staff wins many a game for their teams. The Cardinals’ pitching staff is no exception. While unexpected injuries, trades and slumps can always change things around, this is a rotation that the Cardinals will have great success with in my mind. If they can put it together with consistently great offense, it would be foolish to ever count them out.


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