The Cardinals have a great history of bringing pitchers that have struggled elsewhere to St. Louis to get them straightened out. Going all the way back to 1981 when Whitey Herzog swung a deal with Houston to acquire Joaquin Andujar, imports have done a great job. Darryl Kile had lost his way in Colorado…as many pitchers have…but when he got to St. Louis he changed from a pitcher who had gone 21-30 with a 5.84 ERA with the Rockies (and before that 71-65, 3.79 in Houston) to a consistent winner. In his 2 ½ years in STL before his untimely passing, Kile went 41-24 with a 3.54 ERA.
Times were different then. Dave Duncan was the pitching coach. But the approach today remains the same. General Manager and now President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has tried, with mixed results, to revive the careers of Edward Mujica, Jonathan Broxton, Mike Leake, John Lackey, Justin Masterson, Carlos Villanueva, Pat Neshek, Randy Choate and Jake Westbrook over the last decade.
The reason I bring this up is that it would appear the rehab would be the most likely avenue for the Cards to travel to improve their pitching. I’d like to see them get a stud as much as anyone. It doesn’t appear Madison Bumgarner or Trevor Bauer are being moved. Marcus Stroman was already traded to the Mets. There are reasonable questions about the durability and/or quality of guys like Mike Minor of the Rangers or Noah Syndergaard of the Mets. Throw in the cost for those guys…who have controllable years left…and it just doesn’t fit the Cardinals M.O. to acquire a starter like that.
There IS a starter that appears available that, before this year, had a 57% quality start rate in six major league seasons. He averaged 6 1/3 innings over three years and 93 starts before this one. His ERA in those seasons were 2.83, 4.67 and 4.34. That’s what Tanner Roark has done in Washington. His best year…16-10 with a 2.83 ERA and 172 strikeouts and 72 walks in 210 innings…came under the watch of current Cardinal pitching coach Mike Maddux in 2016. Those two worked together in 2016-2017.
This year he was traded to Cincinnati, and his walk year pitching home games at The Great American Smallpark has not been pleasant. Roark’s quality start percentage has plummeted to twenty percent (just four in twenty starts) although his ERA is 3.95. His ERA+ (adjusted for the parks he pitches in, with league average being 100) is 115. Although his numbers, especially his durability numbers, don’t stand out because of his home park, Roark is having a good year. He’s a guy that takes the ball, and has given his team quality innings in the past. And he’s a guy that will be comfortable pitching in the post-season, having done so in two separate seasons in Washington.
The Reds are reportedly going to be a seller, and Roark is a pending free agent. While other teams do their bidding on the likes of Bauer of the Indians, Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler of the Mets, Minor and Mike Leake of Seattle, it would fit the Cardinals history to get a guy like Roark, who’s a prime candidate for a revival here before he hits free agency in the fall.
According to some reporters, the Cards have also been linked with Arizona lefthander Robbie Ray. The Diamondbacks already have a knowledge of the Cardinal system after scouting it for the Paul Goldschmidt trade last year. A lefty in the rotation would be wonderful, but since he’s probably the only lefthanded starter available, expect the bidding to be high.
Mozeliak also told Dan McLaughlin on ScoopsWithDannyMac.com that the Cardinals are in the market for a lefthanded relief pitcher that has options. That’ll be a tough get, but I would think the Cardinals will land some lefthanded relief help that’s an upgrade over Tyler Webb by Thursday.
Hope for the big splash, but also remember the way the Cardinals have behaved during the 23 years of the Bill DeWitt ownership. If you set your sights a little bit lower, you won’t be as disappointed.