For the first time since 1990, the St. Louis Cardinals were a last-place team. That's right. For more than three decades, the club had avoided the cellar - but in 2023, everything came crashing down, setting up what should be an intriguing offseason, if nothing else.
Jon Mozeliak has been busy early on, signing a pair of pitchers to shore up a rotation that ranked 26th in all of baseball with a 5.07 ERA, in veterans Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. The only problem here if you're a Cardinals fan is that neither of those guys had particularly impressive 2023 campaigns - and both ranked in the top five in hits allowed.
Cubs hitters should feast on these three Cardinals pitchers
Lynn, who went from the White Sox to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, ranked fifth in MLB with 189 hits allowed - and Gibson checked in at fourth on the list, allowing 198 knocks on the year. As if that weren't bad enough, they join a rotation that already featured the man who allowed more hits than anyone else in baseball last year in Miles Mikolas (226).
Now, it's worth pointing out that all three of these pitchers threw more innings than any member of the Cubs pitching staff in 2023. Justin Steele led all Cubs hurlers with 173 1/3 innings this year - and Chicago hasn't had a starter eclipse the 200-inning mark since Jon Lester back in 2016. But there's a difference between being a quality innings-eater and just taking your beatings every five days. Clearly these three guys fell into that latter category in 2023.
Still, bringing this back to the Cardinals - it's an interesting choice to build out three-fifths of your rotation with guys who, frankly, can't miss bats. That could bode well for a Cubs team that has shied away from feast or famine hitters more of late as they look to return to the top of the NL Central and keep St. Louis at the bottom of the pecking order in 2024.