The Cardinals got a good starting pitching performance from Jack Flaherty on Saturday, who despite walking seven batters, managed to throw five scoreless innings. While I was encouraged by his progress, especially after he missed so much time last year, his outing didn’t convince me that the Cardinals starting rotation is going to need some help at some point this year.
Like many Cardinals fans, I too was disappointed that the team didn’t make an effort to acquire a frontline starting pitcher during the offseason. Even if they weren’t going to sign one of the big names such as Carlos Rodon, I was hoping that they might take a look at somebody like Tyler Anderson or Nathan Eovaldi to prepare for what seems to be an annual tradition of starters getting hurt in spring training.
Since that didn’t come to pass, I think it’s still safe to say that the Cards could benefit from a true No. 1 starter. As much as we’re all hoping that Dylan Cease or Shane Bieber could be on their radar, I would assume it’s unlikely that they go for one of those guys, given that the Guardians and White Sox are trying to contend.
Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t solid options, nor does it mean the Cardinals shouldn’t continue searching for a starter. And there might be one waiting for the Cardinals if anything were to go wrong that I feel like some fans may be forgetting about.
Lance Lynn is one of the last remaining players from the 2011 World Series team. But he could be of use by the time the trade deadline comes around. Lynn is 35 and missed a good chunk of time last season with a knee injury, but he still put up some solid numbers, going 8-7 with a 3.99 ERA in 121.1 innings pitched.
He struck out 124 batters and had a K-rate just above 24%, which is something the Cardinals say they’ve been looking for. Fortunately, strikeout stuff is what typically plays well in the postseason.
While I understand that starting pitching isn’t what killed the Cardinals in the postseason, I do think it’s obvious that with an ace, they wouldn’t have stood much of a chance against teams like the Padres, Mets, Yankees, Astros, or even the Guardians. And the same holds true for 2023.
Whether or not you consider Lynn in “ace” is up for debate, but his 2021 stats certainly present a strong argument for him to be considered as such. He won 11 games and posted a 2.69 ERA while also earning an All-Star nod and even finishing third in the Cy Young race. His postseason experience also makes him a favorable target.
The real question is, who or what will it take to land him. With the White Sox likely to contend, I think it’s very possible that like Cease, Lynn may be off limits. Still, he more than likely wouldn’t warrant too hefty of a return, as Cease would.
I’ve seen Cardinals fans suggest that Tommy Edman could be trade bait at the deadline. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why fans are writing him off. But if a trade for Lynn comes to pass, I think it’s more likely that we see the Cardinals potentially picking from their surplus of blocked outfielders.
Alec Burleson, Dylan Carlson, Juan Yepez, and even Moises Gomez are a few names that come to mind. With the emergence of Jordan Walker, those four are likely going to struggle to find much playing time at the big league level, so I could see the Cardinals picking a few from that list to add Lynn, or any starter for that matter.
Depending on what happens with the White Sox, Lynn may be the Cardinals best bet. Either way though, I think all Cardinals fans will agree that the rotation as it stands today won’t be enough if they want to go deeper in the playoffs.