Friday, December 13, 2013

Projecting the Cardinals starting rotation for 2014 and beyond

Each year around this time, I try to take a look at the Cardinals roster and project out the starting rotations and lineup for the next year and a few years into the future.  Its mainly an exercise in speculation and highly subjective, but its fun to try to figure out what the team might look like in the future.

Today I'm starting with the rotation.  Here is what I project for 2014 and beyond.


With Adam Wainwright locked up through 2018, Jaime Garcia signed through 2015 (with club options for 2016 and 2017) and all the other potential starters still pre-arbitration, the Cardinals could have a logjam of pitchers for the next several years.

There are no shortages of starters in the Cardinals organization. With the likes of Wainwright, Garcia, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Carlos Martinez, Tyler Lyons, John Gast and a host of prospects waiting in the wings, the Cardinals have a seemingly endless pipeline of pitchers.

For 2014, John Mozeliak has already gone on record as saying that Garcia will be in the rotation, if healthy, and he will likely join Wainwright, Wacha and Miller as the top 4 starters.  This means that Lynn, Kelly and Martinez will likely battle next spring for the 5th starter spot.

Although I see Lynn eventually winning out, with Kelly returning to his swingman role and Martinez working as a setup man, this is probably Lynn's last chance to prove himself worthy of a starting spot.  Lynn will be arbitration eligible after the 2014 season and thus next year will be a make or break year for him. 

He has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, but has been far too inconsistent and seems to let his emotions get the better of him at times.

With that said, here is my predicted 2014 rotation:
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Shelby Miller
  3. Jaime Garcia
  4. Michael Wacha
  5. Lance Lynn

Again the usual suspects should be vying for a starting spot in 2015, with a couple exceptions. 

I think that Lynn will be traded at some point prior to the season, opening up a spot for someone else.  My hope is that Carlos Martinez will be the one to step up and take that spot.  He has the stuff to be a front line starter and the Cardinals may use the Wainwright method of developing him by using him in relief first (in 2014) before moving him to the rotation in 2015.

The other starter I think could be gone is Garcia.  His shoulder issues are a big concern for me and I think that, if the Cards find a taker, they could trade him or his shoulder will knock him out of the rotation.  In either case, the Cardinals have a few options to replace him.  If addition, the have a good stock pile of young lefties who could replace him. Gast, Lyons or one of their prospects, Marco Gonzalez or Tim Cooney, could fill the void.

If the above plays out, here is how I see the 2015 rotation:
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Shelby Miller
  3. Michael Wacha
  4. Carlos Martinez
  5. Tim Cooney

Even if Garcia is still a part of the Cardinals rotation in 2015, I think he's likely gone after that year, as the Cardinals will probably not pick up his option. 

Thus, for 2016, the top 4 from the 2015 rotation should still be in place, leaving the 5th starter spot as a battle between lefties Cooney, Gonzalez, Lyons and Gast.

This time I predict that Gonzalez will win out, due largely to his higher upside than Cooney.

Thus, here is the 2016 rotation:
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Shelby Miller
  3. Michael Wacha
  4. Carlos Martinez
  5. Marco Gonzalez
2017 and beyond

Once you get past 2016, things are really going to get dicey.  2013 first rounder Rob Kaminsky will likely be major league ready by 2017 or 2018 and young flame thrower Alex Reyes could also be ready by that time, leaving the Cardinals with even more arms to choose from.

Obviously, not every one of these prospects will pan out and some pitchers could be traded at some point to replace Jhonny Peralta at short when the Cardinals are forced to move him to third or the outfield.  So, there are a lot of variables at play here.

With that said, I think the front 4 will remain a staple of the Cardinals rotation for as long as the Cards control their rights (Wainwright and Miller are signed or controlled through 2018 and Wacha and Martinez through 2019) and the team can just ride the hot hand in the 5th starter spot.

In any case, no matter how you look at it, the Cardinals pitching is stacked and should be for years to come.  


  1. Lance Lynn has used up his chances to make it. Get Lynn out of there,

  2. never once mentioned Siegrist? whole article is bunk w/o him.

  3. I see Siegrist as being pigeonholed in relief, like Rosenthal. He's done so well in that role it'll be hard for the Cardinals to remove him.

  4. Hard to believe we have a mop-up guywho touches 98-99 mph (Kelly)....I would really like to see him get a legit shot as a starter (not just emergency starts, always looking over his shoulder). He has electric stuff, and really seems to be at his best when he starts. Starters have a little more room to work out of jams, and settle in, which he needs.

  5. What kind of ceiling do Cards fans envision for Alex Reyes?