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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Why the Cardinals will reclaim the NL Central in 2024

The St. Louis Cardinals are coming off an underwhelming 2023 season. Second-year manager Oliver Marmol led the team to a 71-91 record, good for last place in their division, and their first time finishing below .500 since 2007.  

There were several key factors to the Cardinals’ lack of success in 2023, and much of it had to do with their pitching staff. Two-time All-Star Miles Mikolas was statistically below average for the entire campaign, Steven Matz struggled to find his footing in the rotation, and Adam Wainwright, after a career resurgence, pitched to a 7.40 ERA in his final season. The Cardinals also used a whopping 23 different relief pitchers, only to accumulate a disappointing 4.47 bullpen ERA, good for 23rd in the league.  

Furthermore, only two St. Louis position players appeared in 140 or more games last year, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Many of the others, like Dylan Carlson, Brendan Donovan, and Nolan Gorman, dealt with injuries that decimated their playing time.  

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said the team would look to add multiple starting pitchers prior to this current offseason, and he has acted on that promise. The Cardinals first signed Lance Lynn, who previously played for the franchise from 2011-2017, on Nov. 21. Mere hours later, 2021 All-Star Kyle Gibson was brought in on a $12 million contract. Yet, the biggest signing of them all was getting the 2023 American League Cy Young Award runner-up, Sonny Gray. Those additions, combined with the trade for former Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge, should at least solidify the Cardinals’ pitching corps in 2024.  

Aside from on-field additions, the Cardinals also changed things up on their coaching staff and in the front office, as well. Yadier Molina, one of the all-time greatest Cardinals and a likely Hall-of-Famer, agreed to be a special assistant to Mozeliak and help out with pitchers and catchers. Two more former players, Dean Kiekhefer and Daniel Descalso, took on the roles of assistant pitching coach and bench coach, respectively. Lastly, Chaim Bloom, a key part in building up the Rays’ roster to its playoff-caliber level of the present day, was signed on as an advisor to Mozeliak.  

With a month until spring training, the Cardinals can certainly add more pieces to their roster, but even if they choose not to, the offseason should be considered a success. Not only did they address their primary weakness in 2023, pitching, but they also snagged several coaches and executives with much-needed playoff experience. 

 

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Robert Hughes, Sports Editor

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