Inbox: What's the key for Cards' rotation?

Beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers questions from fans

May 27th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- For just the second time since 2000, the Cardinals are idle on Memorial Day. It may not be a welcomed day off for a club seeking to wash away the sour taste of Sunday’s stinging loss, but it does offer us some time for one final Inbox.

Yes, that’s right. This will be my final Inbox for As I announced earlier this year, after 13 seasons covering the Pirates and Cardinals for, I am moving into a management position on MLB’s editorial team. That transition will start on Tuesday when Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) begins as your new Cardinals beat writer. You’ll be seeing my bylines dwindle as she takes the reins, though I’ll still be around St. Louis and have a hand in’s content.

Before I leave, let me once more express what a joy it has been to serve you, the readers, for so many years. No one will ever convince me that there is a better place to be a baseball writer than in St. Louis, and it’s been a career highlight to inform, entertain and challenge this fanbase for the last eight years. Thank you for that privilege.

And with that, let’s get to a few more of your questions:

The sample size is too small for any sort of definitive conclusion, but this series certainly represented a step in the right direction for the Cardinals’ starters. For the first time this season, the Cardinals generated a quality start in every game of a series. In total, , and combined to allow five runs over 19 1/3 innings.

The bigger number, though, may have been two -- the total number of walks the trio allowed.

The Cardinals’ rotation entered this series averaging 3.68 walks per nine innings, the highest rate among all National League rotations. At the time, it also ranked 13th in the NL in ERA (4.72) and 14th with an opponents’ batting average of .264.

The key, of course, is to stretch this success over a longer period. The Cardinals are also about to insert a new contributor into the mix, as Genesis Cabrera will be taking Michael Wacha’s vacated rotation spot this week.

I’ll have to warn Anne about the deluge of Dallas Keuchel questions poised to come her way. In short, there’s not much new on this front. Keuchel continues to wait for what he believes to be a fair offer, and the Cardinals continue to assert that they’d like to provide opportunities to internal candidates before pursuing outside help. Cabrera gets a shot this week to prove he’s a ready contributor.

Keep in mind, too, that the Cardinals’ starting depth is about to increase with Austin Gomber and Alex Reyes nearing full health. Neither may have Keuchel’s track record, but they also don’t require the same sort of long-term commitment the 31-year-old Keuchel is seeking.

If the Cards are going to add a starter from outside the organization, look for that to happen much closer to the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Manager Mike Shildt was asked about this over the weekend and emphasized how individual placement within a lineup can’t be considered in a vacuum. What does that mean? His point was that if you wanted to shift Paul Goldschmidt a little lower, where would you put him? The Cardinals already have one of the most productive three-hole hitters (Paul DeJong) in the game and their cleanup hitter (Marcell Ozuna) ranks third in the Majors in RBIs. Shildt doesn’t want to tinker with what’s working there, nor does he feel like Goldschmidt fits better behind those two.

While Goldschmidt’s offensive output hasn’t been all that robust since the first week of the season, he did put together a nice weekend series against the Braves. Goldschmidt finished 5-for-11 with one walk and two strikeouts. He also tallied his first hit with a runner in scoring position since May 9. The Cards hope it’s an indicator of more consistent production to come.

Not this year. It’s been a rough month, yes, but the Cardinals aren’t about to punt on a season that isn’t yet one-third complete. From a wider lens, remember, too, that the organization has invested heavily in this current group. Every starting position player except Ozuna is under contract beyond this season. That means this is the group the Cards intend to ride.

Rather than starting over, look for the Cardinals to potentially start supplementing as the season deepens. How these next two months go for the club will not only set Trade Deadline priorities, but it will also define the urgency for action.