- Scott Spratt, Baseball Info Solutions
The St. Louis Cardinals have a reputation as a pitching factory, and that factory was on display in their run to the postseason last year. After shoulder injuries ended Chris Carpenter's career and held Jaime Garcia to just nine starts in 2013, the Cardinals did not miss a beat as young starters Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller combined to throw 499 innings with a collective 3.34 ERA.
When Miller was removed from the rotation in the playoffs, midseason call-up Michael Wacha allowed just one earned run in his first three postseason starts and was named the NLCS MVP. Even their bullpen was full of young flamethrowers, with Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist all still 24 years old or younger and all throwing fastballs 95 mph or harder.
The Cardinals' pitching depth will once again be tested in the coming weeks as the team placed starters Garcia and Wacha on the DL on the same day earlier this week. To compensate, St. Louis has kept intended spot-starter Carlos Martinez in the rotation and called up prospect Marco Gonzales. However, with the surprising Milwaukee Brewers ahead of them (and with the best record in the NL), many will wonder if the Cardinals will need to make a move to remain in the race. The Cardinals are one of the few teams with the prospects and financial means to trade for David Price, who would instantly improve every rotation in baseball.
However, St. Louis should be able to keep pace in the NL Central without any significant additions because of a defense that will help its current pitchers succeed.
14hJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick
13hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com