— Redbird Rants (@FSRedbirdRants) January 8, 2015
While all of these pitchers are proven MLB starters, I think the best option for the Cardinals is to stay put and trust their current pitching staff. Although there are health concerns with the current rotation, the Cardinals have depth at starting pitcher and should not make a huge monetary commitment to a free agent (Scherzer or Shields) or give up valuable prospects in a trade (Hamels or Price). Their pitching staff is also praised by baseball analysts who are not affiliated with the organization. For example, ESPN senior writer Buster Olney ranked the Cards current pitching staff third best in all of baseball after the Washington Nationals and L.A. Dodgers.
Steamer projections for Cardinal pitchers on the FanGraphs website predict that even with the loss of Shelby Miller, 5 pitchers (Wainwright, Wacha, Lackey, Martinez and Lynn) are projected to pitch between 144 and 192 innings. On top of this, Marco Gonzalez, who can be considered a 6th starter, is also projected to pitch 93 innings next season. Each of these players is also projected to have an ERA between 3.42 and 3.82, which are modest numbers for multiple Cards starters when taking their career statistics into account. For Example, I believe that Wainright and Lynn will have much lower ERA’s than their projections of 3.42 and 3.72. Lynn had a fantastic 2014 in which he had a 2.74 ERA and showed a lot more confidence on the mound than he did in 2013. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2007, Wainwright has only had two seasons in which his ERA was greater than 3.42.
Of course it is illogical to assume all Cardinal starters will be healthy next season (keep in mind that the Steamer projections take durability and injury history into account when making projections). However, that does not mean the Cardinals should jump the gun on acquiring a starter. Last season multiple Cardinals starters were injured and they still managed to have an average ERA well under the NL average of 3.66. As of right now the smart move is to stay put and see what developments with the pitching staff start to take place come spring training.