The Cardinals will try to win their series with the Orioles on Thursday night. It’s definitely a challenge, but the Redbirds are 5-3 so far on a three-city road trip that matched them against winning teams in Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. Can the Cards make it 6-3 before coming home?

We’ll see. A starting-pitching matchup that pits Drew Rom against Kyle Gibson points to both teams having plentiful opportunities to score runs. The rookie Rom has a 7.79 ERA in four starts for the Cardinals after being sent to St. Louis in the Jack Flaherty trade. Gibson, the Mizzou baseball alum, has a 5.12 ERA for the season and an 8.16 ERA in his last five assignments.

The Cardinals have been doing some good things since Sept. 3, winning six of nine games. When a season goes bad, all you can really do is hope that some of the players will prove themselves and get into position for a new or bigger role in 2024.

My list includes these guys:

RICHIE PALACIOS: The speedy outfielder has drawn attention, and praise, for his positive contributions. In 44 plate appearances since his promotion from Triple A Memphis, Palacios is batting .317 with a .349 OBP and a .585 slug. His sprint speed is in the 73rd percentile. He has a good hard-hit rate (36.1%). He doesn’t strike out much (15.6%). In 61 innings of play in center field, he’s a +2 in defensive runs saved. Since making his debut for St. Louis on Aug. 17, the LH-hitting Palacios has more home runs (3) and RBI (8) than Nolan Arenado and the best OPS (.934) among Cardinals with a minimum 40 plate appearances over that time.

TOMMY EDMAN: Tommy doesn’t have to prove that he belongs in the majors with a regular starting role. He’s the fastest and most skilled baserunner the Cardinals have. The gold-glove winner is the most versatile Cardinal defensively, having played at six different positions during his time with St. Louis. Edman can run his way into opportunities for scoring runs, and he can run his way into preventing runs. He’s a switch-hitter, but (as we know) much better against LH pitching than RH pitching.

So what is Edman proving? He looks fab in center field, and that’s been a problem spot for the Cardinals since Harrison Bader was dealt to the Yankees in late July 2022. And even then, Bader as a Cardinal spent a lot of time on the Injured List, a pattern that destabilized the CF position. Enter Edman. In 292 and ⅔ innings in center field this season he’s been credited with five outs above average and four runs prevented. His success rate in getting to balls and making plays is four percent above the MLB average. And he’s gotten all of this done while playing a relatively low number of innings in center.

I don’t think the Cardinals want to trade Edman, but his defensive skill in center field is giving the organization another important reason to keep him.

ZACK THOMPSON: He’s providing the enhanced swing-miss and strikeout capability the Cardinals have been searching for. Among the eight starting pitchers that have made at least six starts for the Cardinals this season, Thompson has the highest strikeout rate (25.6%) and the highest swing-whiff rate (10.7%). The lefty keeps the ball in the yard, allowing an average of 0.9 homers per nine innings. He has the second-highest ground-ball rate (44.6%) among St. Louis starters. And because of his strikeout pop, Thompson’s fielding independent ERA as a starter (3.46) is the best on the team. Yes, we want to see a lot more. But Thompson is looming as a serious candidate for a presence in the 2024 rotation.

JOHN KING: When the Cardinals acquired King as part of the transaction that transferred pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Chris Stratton to the Rangers, I reacted with a shrug. King seemed like a marginal MLB reliever – but he’s been more than that so far for the Cardinals. Maybe this lefty just needed a steady opportunity. I’m not overreacting here … but I am saying King is better than I anticipated. In 13 innings of relief for the Cardinals, King has a 1.38 ERA and a 3.64 FIP. He isn’t a strikeout guy, which is a minus. But he does miss bats, has an eye-catching groundball rate (66%), and has allowed only one homer to the 28 guys he’s pitched to. This is small sample stuff, but since King joined the Cardinals he’s been as effective against RH batters (.231 average) as LH batters (.238 average.) King has put himself on the bullpen radar for 2024.

MATTHEW LIBERATORE: It’s early to make firm judgments, but the lefty’s power pitching plays well in a relief role. His first five innings of bullpen work were intriguing, to say the least. Libby hasn’t proven anything yet, but the bullpen work has jump-started and reset his problematic pitching.

JO JO ROMERO: He’s on the IL now (knee), but he looked great before the interruption. In 31 innings out of the bullpen for the Cards this season Romero has a 2.21 ERA, a 29 percent strikeout rate, and has limited hitters to a .216 batting average. He has faced 147 hitters and allowed only one homer. Romero is better against LH bats than RH bats – but is OK to use against those right-handed hitters … as shown by his 28 percent strikeout rate against them.

JORDAN WALKER: After a lull phase, the high-profile rookie proved (again) that he can make adjustments against opposing pitchers and bust his way out of slumps. And that’s a very good sign for a 21-year old hitter in his first season against MLB pitching. In his last 24 games Walker is batting .321 with a .392 OBP and .583 slug for a .975 OPS. His upturn over this time includes five homers, a triple, and five doubles, 10 walks and 16 RBI. He’s making progress (through hard work) with his defense in right field.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible and Baseball Prospectus unless otherwise noted.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.