Although they’ve won four of their last five and two straight series, it is no thanks to the starting pitching for the last-place Cardinals. A big reason for their early season struggles can be attributed to their abysmal starting pitching. The rotation is 21st in ERA, 28th in BAA and hits allowed, 27th in OBP and OPS, and the list goes on and on.
But the Cardinals are known for making trades for starting pitchers that seemingly turn around the season, helping the team make a playoff push. In recent years it’s been Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana. So who can we look at now as potential candidates to correct the course of the 2023 Cardinals season? Here’s a list of five potential starting pitchers the Cardinals may want to consider trading for if they want a chance at competing for a postseason appearance.
1. Shane Bieber
Shane Bieber is a guy whose name has floated around trade talks in St. Louis since last season, and rightfully so. He’s off to an electric start this season, sporting a 2.61 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. While his strikeout numbers are down from what they usually are, Bieber seems to be a perfect target for the Cardinals to trade for. He’s got the potential to be a strikeout machine, he’s a former CY Young award winner, and he’s only 27 years old. If the Cardinals were to add him to their roster in 2023, St. Louis would be looking at the face of their new ace.
Where did this come from? Rodriguez currently holds the second-lowest ERA in the majors at 1.57 with a WHIP of 0.79, which is also second in the MLB. His BAA is also at .174, which is an entire .100 points lower than the Cardinals’ BAA. He’s never pitched this good in his entire career, so his trade value will be high, especially for a team like Detroit, which will want young guys to help bolster their adolescent future. A lefty starter that is going to eat up innings while limited base runners is exactly what the Cardinals need.
This is a trade that would be right up the Cardinals’ alley. Kelly is a 34-year-old who is coming off of the best full season of his short career. The Cardinals love to trade for older pitchers, seeing as though they tend to have more wisdom to bring to the clubhouse, which allows them to help guide the younger guys who will be their true future. But Kelly has proven to be a reliable starter, as he has a 3.18 ERA along with a 1.15 WHIP. If he were traded, the Cardinals would have control of him through the 2024 season as well, giving them a reliable piece going into the next season.
4. Tyler Wells
Currently holding the best WHIP in the MLB at 0.72, 28-year-old Tyler Wells is sneakily having an extremely good season. His ERA sits at 2.68, and he’s also carrying a .152 BAA. This is just his third season in the MLB, which would allow the Cardinals to play with his contract a bit in the coming years should they want to keep him around. The older veterans are always appreciated, but the young stars who can give you consistently good years are always valued, and if Wells continues to perform like he is this season, he could be one of the best early investments in a trade the Cardinals have made in a long time.
Coming off of a season where he only pitched in 5 games, which gave him a 6.63 ERA, he’s bounced back extremely well, currently holding a 3.06 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. At 33 years old and in his 9th season, he could be the veteran guy the Cardinals want to help boost not only their stats but also their leadership. He’s currently in the second year of a three-year contract that sees him get paid $12 million a year, which might shy the Cardinals away. However, if they were to bring DeSclafani to St. Louis, the Cardinals could find an incredible rotation boost for this year and next.