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Two potential lower-cost pitching options that could help the Cardinals

Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Cardinals are preparing for what may be their biggest offseason in a long time.

They now know that what they have internally is not enough to get them through the season in 2024, and they’ll need three starting pitchers from outside the organization.

I know it’s obvious by now, but it feels like we’re going to have to be blue in the face over this. The Cardinals thought they could skate by with the starters they had in 2023 and not have to add from the outside. Not surprisingly, and not for the first time, they were wrong.

Frontline starting pitching is what St. Louis needs above all else. I believe a stronger rotation will take some of the stress off of the bullpen next year. I do believe the pen needs to be addressed, but the rotation should take precedence.

In my opinion, the Cardinals need at least two of Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The third starter they pick up could either be a lower-cost option or could come via trade.

We’ll look at two guys who may come at less of a cost than some of the high-end starters, but could still be of use to the Cardinals if they decide to go this route.

Lucas Giolito

I could be wrong, but my sense is that because Giolito has finished with an ERA close to five in each of the last two seasons, he won’t get a huge contract offer. That doesn’t mean he won’t have interest, but I feel like any team that signs him would do so by giving him a one-year “prove it” deal to see if he can rebuild his value.

This is something I think the Cardinals could do. Giolito is still a strikeout machine, having averaged 10 per nine innings this year. He also is still only 29, and it would be far less risky to give him a shot than it would be to try and sign Lance Lynn.

One slight concern is that Giolito averaged close to four walks per game this year, so he’ll need to cut down on those if he wants to rebuild his value. But he’s got high upside, still has some years left in him, and can give the Cardinals what they need, which is strikeouts.

Michael Lorenzen

Lorenzen was an All-Star this year for the Tigers before being traded to the Phillies. In Philadelphia, he sort of fell off the face of the earth, posting a 5.51 ERA in 11 appearances and seven starts.

But if he can replicate what he did in Detroit, where he posted a 3.58 ERA before he was traded, he could be of use to the Cardinals. Lorenzen doesn’t walk many batters, averaging just 2.8 per game. He’s got decent strikeout numbers too. He averaged 7.1 in Detroit before falling off in Philadelphia.

He could be had on a short-term deal, as long as the Cardinals manage to get at least two frontline starters. Like Giolito, Lorenzen would need to prove himself, but he has some upside still.

The 31-year-old is also familiar with the Cardinals and the NL Central thanks to his time with the Reds.