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The Cardinals Have the Potential for a Workhorse Starting Staff

MLB: NLCS-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals starting rotation is likely to feature some combination of Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, and Kwang-Hyun Kim when the season finally begins. This has the potential to be a very good staff, especially if Mikolas can have a bounce back season, Carlos Martinez can return to being a very good starter, and Kwang-Hyun Kim can adapt to the MLB quickly. However, while this rotation could experience plenty of success, it could also be close to leading the league in innings pitches among the starting rotation.

Obviously, this depends on Mike Shildt’s usage of his pitching staff, and he does not leave pitchers in for as long as some other teams do, but the point is that the Cardinals rotation is full of guys that can eat innings. Mikolas threw over 200 innings in his first year back in the MLB before throwing over 184 last season. Additionally, Carlos Martinez threw 205 innings in his last full season as a starter, including two complete game shutouts. It is unlikely that Martinez will be used this aggressively in 2020, especially since it will only be his first season back in the rotation. However, he does have a bit of a history of being an innings eater. Flaherty also came incredibly close to breaking the 200 innings pitched threshold last season, but he fell just short at 196 1/3. Wainwright has struggled with injuries as he has gotten older, but he has a strong history as an innings eater even though his time in that role is likely finished. Kim also through over 190 innings in Korea last season.

In the age of bullpenning and pulling the starter before his third time through the order, the Cardinals have a group of starters with the potential to last deeper into games. This may not be the smart choice, but Mike Shildt likely appreciates having the option to leave his starters in longer if the bullpen is ever faulty or he has a starter that is cruising.

The workhorse pitcher is not nearly as common in the modern day as it was in the past, but that does not mean that having a group of pitchers that are capable of pitching deep into a game is a bad thing. It may not be necessary anymore, but the Cardinals starters can at least provide flexibility for Mike Schildt. This could be important this season as there could be an increased number of double headers in the shortened season. At the very least, Flaherty, and Mikolas have proven that they can be effective starters at this point in their career in the big leagues. Questions may still surround Martinez, Wainwright, Hudson, and Kim but it seems likely that this group of starters should be able to provide plenty of quality innings, and should be able to be stretched thin if needed. The age of the consistent 200 inning workhorse may be over, but the Cardinals certainly have some pitchers that could consistently throw 180-190 innings per full length season, and maybe even hit 200 every once in a while.