In his last two starts, Kyle Gibson was assigned to a duel with Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta and Arizona’s Jordan Montgomery.

Peralta is one of the best starters in the majors. Montgomery was an impressive postseason anchor for the 2023 World Series champion Rangers. On the surface, these were unfavorable matchups for the 36-year old Gibson.

And Gibson responded to the challenge. In the two starts against two of the highest-scoring offenses in the National League, Gibson allowed only two runs in 12 innings.

Peralta and Montgomery pitched 13 innings and were touched for two runs by STL’s low-scoring offense. Gibson took on two imposing offenses. Peralta and Montgomery took an offense that’s 14th among 15 NL teams in runs per game.

Gibson did an excellent job against two teams that were heavy betting favorites. He received no run support – literally – on Friday when going against the Brewers. On Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals gave Gibson a 2-1 lead over the Diamondbacks during his six-inning start, and the home team added on for a 5-1 victory over Montgomery.

Gibson, the new St. Louis starting pitcher, had a Bill James game score of 72. Monty, the former St. Louis starting pitcher, had a 67 game score.

Gibson did another Houdini. It happened in Wednesday’s first inning. Bases loaded, no outs. Danger! Gibson wriggled out of it by allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly. His moxie to avoid debilitating damage in such a perilous situation was a triumph for Gibson and the Cardinals.

In Gibson’s six innings of one-run work, the Diamondbacks had 10 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and the sac fly was Arizona’s only scratch. Gibson retired nine of 10 hitters in his RISP situations, with the only batter reaching on a hit by pitch.

I don’t know about you, but I liked the signing and I’m happy with Gibson’s early-season performance. I appreciate his preparation, professionalism, poise and competitiveness. Smart dude. Resourceful. Doesn’t flinch.

Gibson doesn’t have dominant strikeout stuff and will get pounded at times. He’ll have a few ugly starts. Miami smacked Gibson around for seven runs in six innings on April 7. That wasn’t much fun, but he saved the bullpen by going five more innings after the Marlins whomped him for six runs in the first.

In his other four starts Gibson conceded eight earned runs in 25 innings for a 2.88 ERA. And three of the four starts were quality starts.

This season Gibson is one of only three MLB starting pitchers to go at least six innings in all five of their starts. The others are Logan Webb (Giants) and Jose Berrios (Blue Jays.)

Gibson already has three quality starts this season, and that continues a trend.

His three quality starts match Peralta, Aaron Nola and other notables.

Since the start of the 2023 season Gibson has only one fewer quality start than Corbin Burnes, the same total of quality starts (20) as Blake Snell and Luis Castillo and more quality starts (20) than Nola, Peralta, Spencer Strider and Dylan Cease.

Deeper starts? Since the start of last season Gibson has 24 starts that stretched to six innings or longer. That’s tied for ninth most in the majors. Gibson has more 6+ inning starts over the last two seasons than Montgomery, Peralta, Burnes, Snell, Cease, Kevin Gausman and Justin Steele.

No one has to remind me that it’s early, but the early returns are looking good for the three starting pitchers signed by the Cardinals last offseason.

Gibson, Gray and Lynn have combined for a 3.04 ERA in their 13 starts.

The Cardinals are 8-5 in games started by Gibson, Gray and Lynn – and are 3-9 in the games started by Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz and Zack Thompson.

The 8-5 record by the three new rotation pieces should be better. And that record would be better with more assistance from the St. Louis offense. In run support per nine innings, the Cardinals have given Gray 2.1 runs, Lynn 2.2 runs, and Gibson 2.3 runs. That puts the three Cardinals in the bottom 13 of the 71 National League pitchers that have at least three starts this season.

So if you’re grumbling about the team’s starting pitching, I have one suggestion: leave Gibson, Lynn and Gray out of it. If their performances go sour, then you can holler.

Could this change? Well, yeah. Of course it could change. There are 137 games left in the regular season. Lynn and Gibson tend to pitch their way into jams, then compete their way out of it. They’re pretty good at escaping.

We saw that in the two wins over Arizona this week. Gibson and Lynn did not succumb to bases-loaded endangerment early in the game and gave the Cardinals an opportunity to come back and win both times.

There were other high-risk zones. The Diamondbacks had a .372 onbase percentage (combined) against Lynn and Gibson in their starts but scored only four times.

When a starting pitcher has a habit of getting himself into predicaments, the bad guys will break through and prevail at times. But Gibson, Lynn (and Gray) aren’t easy to crack. There’s no stat for that, but I think it’s a skill.

GIBSON, GRAY AND LYNN ARE PROVIDING WHAT THE CARDINALS WANTED. There’s a reason why the front office and manager Oli Marmol turned to these starters to upgrade the 2024 rotation. In 2023 this team’s piteous rotation was short on talent and soft in mental toughness. Gray, Lynn and Gibson were specifically targeted to give the 2024 rotation a firmer spinal column.

“We’re seeing it now with (some) of our veteran starters just being able to really just minimize damage and then give you length after that,” manager Oli Marmol said after Gibson’s winning start. “When you talk about a veteran pitcher, part of it is they’re experienced in doing that well and not doing that well and continuing to kind of evolve.

“Gibby has had some really good years, and he’s hard years where he’s gotten punched in the face. And you have to figure out a way to combat that. And when you face a tough inning your heart beats the same and he figures out a way to minimize damage.”

It sure would be nice to see Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz cowboy up. They’ve been bruised for more earned runs (34) in 50 and ⅔ innings than Gray, Lynn and Gibson have yielded (25) in 74 innings.

The split is glaring:

Gray + Lynn + Gibson: 3.04 ERA.

Mikolas + Matz: 6.04 ERA.

To this point of the season – and once again, it’s early – anyone who cares to pay attention understands the benefit of the front-office strategy to secure three starting pitchers who fit a specific profile. The moves are giving this team a chance to recover from 2023. But the three new starters need help from Mikolas, Matz and the offense.

WHERE THE BOYS ARE: By winning two of three from Arizona, the Cardinals are 4-4 in their eight series played. That represents progress from the gruesome 2023 season when the Redbirds went 2-5-1 in their first eight series … last season the Cards were 9-16 through 25 games, so at 11-14 to start 2024 they’re two games ahead of last year’s pace. Progress? … after a 2-4 home stay vs. Milwaukee and Arizona the Cardinals are 5-7 at Busch this season … six of STL’s 11 wins have been comeback victories. That’s 54.5 percent. Last season 39 percent of their wins were on comebacks.

ST. LOUIS BULLPEN REPORT: Their 3.77 ERA ranks 14th in the majors but I don’t think this adequately represents just how good this bullpen is. St. Louis relievers have allowed 36 earned runs this season but nearly half of those runs (17) were given up by two guys, Zack Thompson and Andre Pallante, who were demoted to Triple A Memphis. The other nine relievers used by St. Louis have a combined 2.46 ERA with a 28 percent strikeout rate.

From the start of the seventh inning and through the end of the game, St. Louis relievers have a 2.08 ERA – and it’s a 1.71 ERA excluding Pallante. The Cardinals’ 2.08 ERA over the final three-plus innings is the fourth best among the 30 MLB bullpens. And from the seventh inning on, 64 percent of the batters faced have been handled by JoJo Romero, Ryan Helsley, Andrew Kittredge, Giovanny Gallesgos and Matthew Liberatore.

Cardinals relievers have a 2.26 ERA in the team’s 11 wins. Helsley, Romero and Kittredge and Gallegos have combined for a 1.85 ERA over 34 innings in games won by the Cardinals. Helsley, Romero and Kittredge have a combined 1.53 ERA in STL’s 11 wins.

A few other bullpen notables:

* The Cardinals have the best save rate (80%) in the National League and are tied for third overall. Last season their 56 percent save percentage was 25th overall and 14th among 15 NL bullpens.

* The Cardinals have not blown a ninth-inning lead this season. They squandered seven ninth-inning leads in 2023.

* The Cardinals are tied for third in the NL for fewest blown leads (4). To sharpen the perspective, six NL teams have blown six leads or more: Pirates, Marlins, Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks. The 2023 Cardinals lost 41 leads, the second highest amount by an NL bullpen.

This past offseason the St. Louis front office upgraded the bullpen talent and depth for 2024. And Marmol is doing a terrific job of handling his bullpen this season. The front office made a good decision to put Pallante and Thompson in the minors, and that frees Marmol to set up his bullpen in an advantageous way.

LOVE FOR MICHAEL SIANI:  This dude is a superb outfielder. He’s batting just .148 in 36 plate appearances this season, but he isn’t in the majors for offense. And Siani is an impressive player in several ways. The following statistical information is from Statcast:

+ Siani is the highest-rated MLB outfielder in getting a good jump when tracking balls. His “burst” rate in pursuing balls is the best by a major-league outfielder.

+ He ranks among the top 15 percent of MLB runners in sprint speed. And as a runner he’s taken an extra base at a fantastic rate of 67.8 percent.

+ He ranks among the top 17 percent of MLB outfielders in arm value.

+ Siani has a 96 percent success rate defensively. The expected success rate on his fielding chances is 88 percent. That means Siani has a success-rate added of eight percent; that’s tied for second among big-league outfielders.


– Nolan Gorman: on the homestand Nolan Gorman went 0 for 9 with six strikeouts against Milwaukee but rebounded by going 4 for 9 against Arizona with a double, game-winning homer and three RBIs. And Gorman limited his strikeouts to two in nine plate appearances vs. the Diamondbacks. Gorman’s RBI single in the seventh was a swell piece of hitting; he lined an 0-2 pitch from a lefty reliever to the left-center gap to score Masyn Winn and open his team’s lead to 3-1.

– And how about Winn? He took off from first before the pitch to Golan and never stopped running, scoring a run on his speed, aggressiveness and smarts. What a good player. Winn had just one hit in seven at-bats against the Diamondback but finds other ways to help his team. In the Arizona series he walked twice, stole a base and scored two runs. And: good defense. Winn has two defensive runs saved at shortstop so far and has a high mark for his work on turning double plays.

– Nolan Arenado: He’s seeing the ball better. After drawing one walk in his first 12 games, Arenado has six walks in his last 13 games. The selectivity has helped him; over his last 13 games Arenado is batting .348 with a nice .415 onbase percentage and .478 slug. Arenado had four RBIs in his first 49 at-bats of the season. He’s driven home eight runs in his last 46 at-bats. His RBI single off Montgomery in the sixth tied the game 1-1 and got the Cardinals rolling.

— Paul Goldschmidt: He had a rough game Tuesday, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. But Goldy was robust in the first and third games, with a total of four hits in eight at-bats with three runs scored. His production included game-tying homer in Monday’s win, and a double and run scored in Wednesday’s victory.

– In the first five (scoreless) innings against Montgomery the Cardinals had two hits in 16 at-bats with three strikeouts and a walk and were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position. In their final three innings the Cardinals scored five times. They went six for 15 (.400) with three walks, reaching base on nine of 18 plate appearances (50%). They also went 2 for 5 with runners in scoring position during the final three innings of at-bats. OBP is oxygen, baby.

– Gibson has induced five double-play grounders this season which ties him for third among MLB starting pitchers. The Cardinals lead the National League with 28 ground-ball double plays. In the AL, Oakland also has 28.

– Another Gibson note: he does a great job of holding runners on first. Opponents have attempted only one steal against him in five starts.

– Lars Nootbaar: his one-out double in the eighth plated two runs and gave the Cardinals some insulation with a 5-1 lead. The Cardinals scored 11 runs in three games against Arizona and Nootbaar drove in four of them.

– The Cardinals are 7-1 this season when scoring five runs in a game. And they are 4-13 when scoring four runs or less.

– The Cardinals have allowed 113 runs this season. But that total was inflated by three outlier games in which the Diamondbacks, Marlins and Brewers scored 36 total runs. In their other 22 games this season the Cardinals have given up an average of 3.5 runs.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

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.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.