I sound like a broken record at this point, but this is what you get when you don’t fix your starting rotation despite there being a glaring need to add another arm. The Cardinals experienced this again on Friday in their series opener against the Dodgers. I was feeling confident after they put up two runs on Dustin May, but that confidence quickly faded once the Dodgers began to rally.
And by the end of the night, we were left wondering why the Cardinals chose to bank on their six “starters” instead of adding a proven piece to make the rotation stronger. It’s a question we may never know the answer to, unfortunately. A starting pitcher going down in spring training or early in the season has essentially turned into a tradition.
Obviously, this all could have been offset by just one addition of a high-end arm, but we’re beating a dead horse at this point. Still, it has us wondering what will fix the Cardinals, given the limited resources that they have. The offense still looks stagnant as well, and sending down Jordan Walker clearly didn’t help matters. In fact, I think it may have sent the wrong message.
But what could the Cardinals do to pull themselves back to their feet? We will discuss a few things that they could potentially try in the short term in order to salvage their season.
Call Up Matthew Liberatore and Andre Pallante
As I’ve been saying for the past several weeks, this rotation isn’t going to fix itself. I’ve also mentioned how trades are unlikely to happen at this point. Still, there is talent within the organization that is being wasted at the minor league level while the Cardinals still have Steven Matz and Jake Woodford taking up spots in their rotation.
Matthew Liberatore has been solid down in Memphis. But with the way things are going, the Cardinals can’t afford to wait much longer to bring him up. I tend to get negative when I’m frustrated about the Cardinals, which is something I’m hoping I can nip in the bud soon. But to look on the bright side, Liberatore really has been pitching well, and I honestly think that he could help this team and make the Randy Arozarena trade worthwhile. In five starts, he’s 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA. He also has 36 strikeouts and has held opposing hitters to a .220 average.
As for Pallante, I was shocked that he got sent down in the first place. I understand that he wasn’t pitching great, but he’s a very valuable weapon and it was still early in the season. Plus, Pallante was great last year both as a starter and a reliever. They could be stretching him out as a starter, which would be smart given the circumstances. Hopefully some time down in the minors has helped him out, though I still stand by my statement that it was surprising to see him get sent down at all.
Bring Back Jordan Walker and Juan Yepez
These are two guys who both are hitting well in the minors. Both of them homered on Friday night. But I’ll start by saying that I understand Walker needed to work on a few things, specifically defense and getting the ball in the air when he hits. However, I don’t understand why he needed to be sent down because of it. The Cardinals had plenty of other ways to deal with it. They could have used him as a designated hitter, moved Nolan Gorman to second base, and moved either Brendan Donovan or Tommy Edman to the outfield. Both are solid defenders no matter where you put them.
Also, I can’t say I’ve been terribly impressed by the performances of Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Alec Burleson, or even Lars Nootbaar. Burleson has shown flashes of brilliance, but I think either he and Carlson should go down for a bit to not only clear a spot for Walker, but Yepez as well.
Give Nolan Arenado A Few Days Off
I do believe Nolan Arenado will start to hit a little bit better soon. But something is clearly not right, and I think a couple days off could really help him. The Cardinals have Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong, and Taylor Motter, who can all play some third base while he gets a bit of a break. DeJong has been hitting quite well, but you can have him, Edman, Donovan, and Gorman in the lineup all at the same time. Obviously, the Cardinals want Arenado out there as much as possible, and I think we can all agree on that. But you also want him to be at his best, and maybe a day or two on the bench can help him rediscover his stroke.
Make A Trade
This essentially goes against what I’ve been saying about it being too soon to make trades, and granted, there is no way pitchers like Dylan Cease are going to be on the move this early in the season. But I was reading a piece on Redbird Rants from Josh Jacobs. In the piece, Jacobs discussed a few trades the Cardinals could make to patch things up. Two of them really caught my eye.
In one slide, Jacobs suggested that the Cardinals send Tyler O’Neill to the Yankees in exchange for Clarke Schmidt and Michael King. This would be an interesting trade to make, and it isn’t a blockbuster deal by any means. But with the Yankees a little short on outfielders now that Giancarlo Stanton is out, a reunion between O’Neill and Harrison Bader may not be out of the question. Also, it would give the Cardinals some much needed pitching help/
The other one I found interesting was the idea of sending Juan Yepez and Moises Gomez to the Guardians for Cal Quantrill. I think Quantrill would be a good piece to have and somebody who can be valuable as a starter or a bullpen piece. However, I disagree on trading Yepez. I think if you’re the Cardinals, you need to clear a path for him. While Dylan Carlson and Alec Burleson haven’t performed great, they both have a ton of upside and could be used to give the Cardinals what they need. This is why I think it would make more sense to include one or both of them in that package.
All of this is speculation at this point, but these are four things the Cardinals could try in order to stop the bleeding.