After a strange 2020 season, the 2021 MLB season will be starting on time. Currently, teams are slated to play all 162 games which means pitchers’ workloads will return to normal. More innings and more batters on more teams mean pitchers will actually have time to ramp up, unlike in 2020. During spring training, teams will need to start getting a feel for what their rotations might be. Here is an early look at the St. Louis Cardinals projected 2021 pitching rotation.
Although he did not take home the hardware, Flaherty was considered for Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young award and MVP in consecutive years. In 2019, he led the league in WHIP and had the lowest hits per nine inning ratio in the MLB.
Flaherty’s ERA took a nosedive in 2020, but that is nothing out of the ordinary. Most players’ numbers suffered with the pandemic-shortened season putting a chokehold on their innings pitched. Flaherty should return to the top of the order and take the mound for Opening Day in 2021.
2. Kwang Hyun-Kim
One of the most exciting young pitchers making his 162 game debut in 2020 is Kwang Hyun-Kim. He won three of his seven starts in 2020, throwing for a ridiculous 1.62 ERA. Granted, the sample size was only 39 innings, but those numbers are nothing to sneeze at.
St. Louis is foaming at the mouth to see what Hyun-Kim can do. That is why they will place him near the top of the 2021 rotation. He could be their next ace, or even their second or third ace if Mikolas and Flaherty return to form.
Miles Mikolas was one of the premiere standout pitchers of the 2018 season. He won an MLB-high 18 games, had an ERA of just 2.83 and earned an All-Star appearance. As unhittable as he was in 2018, though, that is how much he regressed to mediocrity in 2019.
The Cardinals are determined to prove that the former-Padre’s season was not a fluke, however. Mikolas is still young and has a lot to give to the team. It is hard to see another pitcher on the roster supplanting him for the middle of the rotation.
Martinez has been a tenured Cardinal since 2013. In that time he has earned two All-Star appearances in 2015 and 2017, leading the league in batters faced during the latter.
His ERA numbers are usually impeccable, earning a 3.51 average ERA over his eight-year career. That is even including his very skewed 2020 ERA, which sat at 9.90. The young talent on this pitching staff is staggering, but Martinez should still earn a spot in the rotation. Having a player like him near the back end of the rotation is a great problem to have.
Adam Wainwright is one of the most recognizable St. Louis sports figures of all time. He has been a Cardinal since 2005 and has been a full-time starter since 2007. Among his many achievements are a World Series championship, three time All-Star selections and two Gold Gloves.
He isn’t done yet, though. Wainwright is coming back for another season. He will of course be in the starting rotation, he’s earned that much, at least. The quality of his production is certainly going to be up in the air, but there is obviously still gas in the tank.
Featured Image courtesy of Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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