As we know, the Cardinals signed right-handed starting pitcher Kyle Gibson to a one-year deal that will pay him $12 million in 2023. There’s a team option for 2025, but for now let’s just concentrate on what Gibson can do for the Cardinals next season.

I’ve been utterly fascinated by the local reaction to the move. It’s comical and confusing. From what I can tell, the reason for the outbreak of faux outrage can be explained in two parts …

1. The St. Louis front office hasn’t made a move to sign or acquire a front-end starting pitcher … or two top-side starters for that matter.

Therefore …

2. Kyle Gibson is a garbage pitcher. He’s junk. A waste of money. I saw other terms used to denigrate Gibson, but they’re crazily vile. There’s no reason to repeat them.

The Cardinals needed a No. 1 starter, and they signed this worthless husk? SELL THE TEAM! A vocal percentage of Cardinal observers are struggling to separate the two issues. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. There seems to be a counting problem as well because it takes five pitchers to assemble a rotation.

For sure, the Cardinals must add a high-end starter – or two – to the top of their rotation. And if president of baseball operations John Mozeliak doesn’t deliver the goods, then squawk on. If the management strikes out on this urgent assignment, sharp and relentless criticism is warranted.

But what the heck does that have to do with Gibson and the role he’ll be asked to fulfill here. He was hired to be a fourth or fifth starter. He was enlisted to supply high-volume innings and provide consistency. He was brought in to provide an element of certainty. His work fits the profile.

Since we insist on sticking labels on a pitcher, let’s state the obvious: Gibson isn’t a No. 1 starter. He isn’t a No. 2. He isn’t a No. 3. But that doesn’t mean he’s some dumpster-dive token – or whatever the insults are supposed to mean.

Do you really think Kyle Gibson is junk?

That’s looney tunes.

I’ll offer some info – not that I expect any of the brilliant social-media performance artists to accept any of this.

1st tweet: I’m more outraged than you.

2nd tweet: No, I’m more outraged than you.

3rd tweet: I’m more outraged than the both of you and I will prove that by setting my hair on fire and make a video of it.

4th tweet: I’m more outraged than anyone and I just burned all of my Cardinals memorabilia and destroyed my flat screen because I’ll never watch them on TV again.

5th tweet: I’m so outraged I’m moving far away from St. Louis to avoid exposure to the stench of a rotted-out franchise that has never won anything since 2022.

6th tweet: I’m outraged that the Cardinals disrespected Bob Gibson by signing this Kirk Gibson fellow … err, Kyle Gibson. 

And so on.

Anyway …

Last season Gibson had 17 quality starts. And just a reminder, when a starting pitcher gives his team a quality start, that team will win between 70 percent and 75 percent of the time. This is good, yes? So what’s so dang special about 17 quality starts? In this era of baseball, the frequency of quality starts is decreasing, so that  makes them more valuable. Starters don’t travel deep into games. The five-inning start is the new normal.

Critics love to point out that pitchers receive credit for a quality start by working at least six innings and getting tagged for three earned runs or fewer. So if that’s the minimum, what in the hell is so swell about a 4.50 ERA? I’ve heard that comment a million times. My answer: the average ERA in all of the quality starts in a typical MLB season is less than 2.00. This isn’t an ideal statistic. But when a guy turns in a QS, he’s giving his team a helluva chance to win.

In his 17 quality starts last season, Gibson had a 2.57 ERA. He also gave up two runs or less in 11 of his 17 QS. (And never more than three runs, obviously.) Gibson pitched seven-plus innings in seven of his quality starts. When Gibson put up a quality start in 2023, his Orioles went 13-4. That’s a winning percentage of .764. But go ahead and call that meaningless.

In 2023 Gibson had the same number of quality starts as Sonny Gray. He had more quality starts than Aaron Nola (15), Dylan Cease (12), Shane Bieber (12) and Tyler Glasnow (9.) He had more QS than Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jose Berrios, Kodai Senga, Bryce Elder, Marcus Stroman, Nathan Eovaldi and many more. Plus, Gibson’s 17 QS were only three fewer than Jordan Montgomery’s 20.

Bernie! Didn’t some of those pitchers get hurt? How is it fair to put Gibson above them? They didn’t have as many opportunities to pile up quality starts! First of all, I’m not saying Gibson was a better pitcher than some of the “name” hurlers. But Gibson had more chances to stack quality starts because he was available all season and made 33 starts. And that’s the point.

Gibson is one of the top innings compilers in the game. Since 2014, only Scherzer, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke have produced more innings than Gibson. That means Gibson gives himself more shots at coming through with a quality start – which means more chances to influence his team’s probability of winning. He also eases the burden on his team’s relievers, and that’s important.

Consistency: Last season Gibson had a quality-start rate of 52 percent. That was just a smidge less than Sonny Gray (53%). The 52 percent matched Scherzer, Verlander and Bryce Elder. Gibson’s QS rate was superior to that of Aaron Nola (47%), Nathan Eovaldi (44%), Tyler Glasnow (43%), Yu Darvish (42%), Dylan Cease (36%), Cristian Javier (35%) and many others.

Yes, that’s right. In 2023 Gibson had more quality starts and a higher QS percentage than some of the arms many Cardinals fans are swooning over. Imagine that. Not bad for a garbage pitcher.

In 2023 Gibson also had as many wins (15) as Gerrit Cole. And Gibson had more wins than Nola, Blake Snell, Zack Wheeler, Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb, Pablo Lopez and George Kirby. Individual-count pitcher wins can be terribly misleading, but I’ll say this for Gibson: he earned his wins in 2023. I say that because he had an overall 2.98 ERA in his 15 victories. The other pitchers I cited here are superior to Gibson in a number of ways, but there’s no need for Gibson to apologize for his 15-win total.

Another note on this: Gibson received an average of 5.3 runs of support in his 33 starts last season. That was the 17th-highest average run support for a regular American League starter. But only one pitcher on that 17-name list was credited with more victories than Gibson. Zach Eflin had 16.

Over the past two seasons Gibson has 32 quality starts. That’s more than Sonny Gray, Scherzer, Spencer Strider, Blake Snell, Dylan Cease, Shohei Ohtani, Jesus Luzardo, Eduardo Rodriguez, Clayton Kershaw, Charlie Morton, Shane McClanahan, George Kirby, Marcus Stroman and many others. Gibson’s team was 24-8 over the past two seasons – a .750 winning percentage – when he set them up with a quality start. I’m assuming his teammates were happy about that.

Last season only two major-league starters put together a combination of at least 190 innings, 33 starts, 17 quality starts, a 52% quality-start rate, 15 wins, and a 4.13 fielding-independent ERA or better. The two were Chris Bassitt and Kyle Gibson.

Over the past two seasons only eight major-league starters have at least 350 innings, 25 wins, 60 starts, 32 quality starts, a 50% quality-start rate or higher, and a fielding-independent ERA of 4.20 or better. The eight are Framber Valdez, Logan Webb, Merrill Kelly, Logan Gilbert, Zac Gallen, Gerrit Cole, Chris Bassitt and Kyle Gibson.

I believe there are more questions about Lance Lynn than Gibson. I didn’t mind the move to bring Lynn back to St. Louis, and he does have more strikeout force than Gibson. But after getting blasted for 44 homers and a .484 slugging percentage last season, Lynn has more to prove than Gibson. That point is reinforced when we look at each pitcher’s fielding independent ERA: 5.53 for Lynn; 4.13 for Gibson. And Lynn allowed 2.16 home runs per nine innings; that’s double the HR rate against Gibson (1.08 per nine.) I have more concerns over Lynn than Gibson.

I honestly have no idea why people are crabbing and stewing over the Cardinals’ one-year deal for Gibson to serve as a back-part rotation piece. What exactly do you expect from a No. 4 or No. 5 starter?

Last season an abysmal St. Louis rotation used 10 different pitchers as starters. The low end of the rotation was covered by the likes of Drew Rom, Matthew Liberatore, Jake Woodford, Dakota Hudson and Zack Thompson. I suppose I should throw Steven Matz in there, too. He wasn’t a top-three starter in the rotation at the beginning of the season. He was also removed from the rotation because of a poor performance – but did reclaim a spot later. It didn’t really matter because limited Matz to 17 starts.

Just don’t miss the point here. The Cardinals had to firm up their final two rotation spots And considering his innings (192), quality-start percentage, 4.13 FIP and 2.6 WAR, Gibson’s work was a cut above the collective performance of many back-end MLB starters in 2023.

Gibson may not be the upgrade you wanted. We all want an upgrade at the top of the rotation. But those who own and run the team seemingly refuse to accept the cost of adding elite pitching, and that’s a big problem.

But this offseason isn’t just about strengthening the top of the rotation. That should be the priority, yes. But this rotation was weak from top to bottom in 2023, and Gibson represents an upgrade for those who actually try to understand why the Redbirds wanted to sign him.

One of my favorite rip jobs is this accusation: the Cardinals wasted money by spending $12 million on Gibson!  Oh sure. According to the FanGraphs’ valuations, Gibson’s performance was worth $20.5 million in 2023, $15 million in 2022, and $25 million in 2021.

So the $12 million investment is a good value. Perhaps the Cardinals can take their savings and apply it to getting an effective high-leverage reliever for their bullpen

Thanks for reading …


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. on 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

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. Baseball Prospectus, Bill James Online or Sports Info Solutions 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.