After much back and forth amid negotiations, the MLB and the MLBPA finally came to an agreement ensuring there would be a 2020 season. This upcoming season will be played during unprecedented times, and therefore will look a little different than your average baseball season. Summer camps opened on July 1st, and the St. Louis Cardinals are welcoming 22 pitchers back among their summer camp roster. Some players are familiar faces, while others are just entering their baseball careers. Regardless, the Cardinals have a large pool of pitchers and talent to utilize during this shortened season.
The majority of the pitchers that made the summer camp roster have seen the major leagues before. Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, and Adam Wainwright all contributed to the Cardinals rotation last season. All four of these starting pitchers started roughly the same number of games across the season, ranging from 31 to 33 games. Flaherty leads the starting pitchers with an ERA of 2.75. Although all pitchers started around the same number of games, Flaherty pitched the most innings with 196. With the exception of Mikolas, the other three seasoned starting pitchers had a W-L% above .500. Hudson leads this group with a .696.
Two other pitchers also started some games in 2019 and are returning in 2020. Daniel Ponce de Leon and Genesis Cabrera could be fighting for the last spot in the rotation. Ponce de Leon had eight starts and 13 appearances with a record of 1-2. Across 48 innings, he posted a 3.70 ERA compared to the team total of 3.80. Cabrera started the least number of games during the 2019 season, but understandably so since he played in Memphis a majority of the time. During his short visit to the majors, he pitched in 13 games with two of them being starts. Across his appearances he recorded 20 innings pitched and a 0-2 record. Cabrera’s ERA is well above the team total, coming in at 4.87, although it was a very small sample size.
The Cardinals bullpen had its ups and downs throughout the 2019 season. Some may argue that it was the bullpen that was responsible for the Cardinals getting swept out of the playoffs. The Cardinals are bringing back a lot of the same faces this year that they had last year in their bullpen. Carlos Martinez used to sit comfortably in the Cardinals rotation, but after getting injured, he landed in the bullpen. He pitched in 48 games and had 24 saves. Over 48 innings pitched, Martinez posted a 3.17 ERA and 4-2 record. Tsunami, a nickname he has adopted, only gave up 39 hits and 18 runs as the Cardinals closer in 2019.
Among the other relievers who will be returning to Busch Stadium this year are Brett Cecil, Junior Fernandez, Giovanny Gallegos, John Gant, Ryan Helsley, Alex Reyes, and Tyler Webb. Cecil and Reyes all suffered from injuries during the 2019 season and either did not play or played a limited amount of time. Jordan Hicks was on track to make a return this season after having Tommy John surgery in 2019. However, he has opted out of the season. It has only been a little over a year since he had Tommy John surgery and he is a Type-1 diabetic. Gant was a bright spot in the Cardinals bullpen, going 11-1 for the season. Across his 66 innings pitched, he gave up 51 hits, 29 runs, and only four home runs. The rest of the relievers are relatively new to the majors and did not pitch in a significant amount of games in the 2019 season.
Meet the New Members of the Cardinals Pitching Staff
Austin Gomber isn’t necessarily new to the Cardinals, but he did spend all his time in Triple-A throughout the 2019 season. In Memphis, he recorded a 2.98 ERA while nursing an injury. His name may sound familiar to some, and that is because he made his MLB debut with Cardinals in 2018. The left-handed starter has been recovering and preparing to be back in the majors sometime during his career.
A completely new face will be joining the roster this year as well. Last December was an exciting time for everyone tied to the Cardinals as they got to see the signing of Kwang Hyun Kim. This Korean lefty had an exceptional 2019 season, and the Cardinals trust that he can do it again this year. Last season in his time with the Korean Baseball Organization, he pitched in 31 games (30 starts) posing a 2.51 ERA with 180 strikeouts. Over 190 innings, he went 17-6.
Johan Oviedo, Ricardo Sanchez, Kodi Whitley, and Jake Woodford will all be moving up a level from within the organization. Oviedo and Woodford are both right-handed starting pitchers who have been a key component of their respective teams. Whitley pitched in 50 games last season with a sparkling 1.60 ERA and a 3-4 record. Across his appearances, he pitched 67 1/3 innings with 78 strikeouts and 19 walks. Ricardo Sanchez is a left-handed starting pitcher coming from the Seattle Mariners. During his 2019 season in Double-A with the Mariners, he pitched in 146 innings, going 8-12.
After a season full of ups and downs for the Cardinals, the upcoming season is looking promising. Most of the legs of the pitching rotation are still solid and the relievers have seen some improvements. The new additions to the big-league club and organization as a whole have proven to be solid performers in previous seasons. Now it is a waiting game to see if the numbers and pitching history are true indications of how the Cardinals will pitch in the shortened 2020 season.
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