Safe and Sound
Mike Leake, Lance Lynn, Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright
Simply put, the only thing that could possibly keep the four pitchers named above from beginning the season in the Cardinals’ rotation would be an injury. Carlos Martinez has proven over the past two seasons that he’s the team’s best starter and one of the best in baseball. Lance Lynn had two straight spectacular seasons before missing 2016 due to Tommy John surgery and deservingly will regain a spot now that he’s back to full health. Adam Wainwright was just plain bad for most of last season, but since he’s a franchise player who has been to the All-Star Game three times and been a Cy Young frontrunner on multiple occasions, he at least deserves the chance to begin the season as a starter and prove that his 2016 season was a fluke.
And while Mike Leake was very bad last season–to the point where many fans thought he should be removed from the rotation–the fact is that the Cardinals still owe him $68 million and are going to do everything they can to get him going this year, if not for several more years until the cost of releasing him becomes feasible. Leake will likely be the fifth starter in the rotation, but we won’t know for sure who will precede him until spring training is over with.
Perhaps the most interesting storyline among this group is which pitcher will start on Opening Day. While Martinez’s performance over the past two years would seem to signify that he should deserve the honor, Mike Matheny’s comments to ESPN’s Mark Saxon on Thursday make it sound like Wainwright is still the favorite to start against the Cubs on April 2.