Adam Wainwright (20-9 2.38 ERA in 2014)
Lance Lynn (15-10 2.74 ERA in 2014)
Michael Wacha (5-6 3.20 ERA in 107 IP in 2014)
John Lackey (14-10 3.82 ERA between Red Sox and Cardinals in 2014)
*Carlos Martinez (1-0 4.91 ERA over 4 games this Spring)
*Marco Gonzales (3-0 0.71 ERA over 3 games this Spring)
*Jaime Garcia (1-1 3.86 ERA over 3 games, 9 1/3 innings this Spring)
(players marked by * are competing for 5th rotation spot.)
Jon Lester (16-112.46 ERA between Red Sox and A’s in20140
Jake Arrieta (10-5 2.53 ERA in 2014)
Jason Hammel (10-11 3.47 ERA between Cubs and A’s in 2014)
Kyle Hendricks (7-2 2.46 ERA in 2014)
Travis Wood (8-13 5.03 ERA in 2014)
Analysis: Both rotations have the the potential to be strong, but there are a lot of what if’s accompanying each. For the Cardinals, their what if’s are mostly health related. Michael Wacha missed much of the season with a stress reaction in his shoulder; although he has started the Spring strong, posting a 1.76 ERA in 15 innings so far. Adam Wainwright had an offseason elbow procedure, and now has a strained ab muscle, although he is back and on track to start Opening Night. Still, John Lackey is 36, and didn’t inspire a sense of excellence after he arrived in St. Louis. There’s also the uncertainty around the fifth spot in the rotation. Currently, Jaime Garcia, Marco Gonzales, and Carlos Martinez are duking it out for that final spot, and the competition is actually incredibly close. Martinez was the favorite heading into the Spring, but Marco Gonzales wasn’t going to make it a cakewalk and has gained a lot of ground, and Jaime Garcia has surprisingly started well out of the gate,(of course with that porcelain shoulder of his who knows how long that could last). The Cubs have their uncertainties too, however. Sure Jon Lester is the ace, but what about after him? Jake Arrieta had a breakout season at the age of 28 last season, but it was his first full season with an ERA under 3.00 and only his second season reaching 10 wins, the first time being back in 2011. Similar concerns hover over 25 year-old Kyle Hendricks, who even though posted a 2.46 ERA in 2014 and hasn’t allowed a run over 7 innings this spring, is still young and unproven. Can he continue pitching in such a dominant fashion over the course of a full season? The Cubs also have an unsettled 5th rotation spot, but their candidates aren’t nearly as strong as the Cardinals.
The advantage swings slightly in the Cardinals favor largely in thanks to the performance uncertainty of many of the Cubs starters. While the Cardinals have their health concerns, all of them seem to be in order at this point, while performance could fluctuate at any point, especially when there isn’t any overwhelming evidence of the success continuing.