THE REDBIRD REVIEW

Andre Pallante was there all along, hoping for a chance to submit an application for membership in the St. Louis starting rotation.

The Cardinals didn’t really see that for him. They were still trying to convince everyone – unsuccessfully – that Pallante was a reliever. And they were oddly stubborn about this before easing away from the idea.

The Cardinals still didn’t trust Pallante as a starter, which was puzzling considering his personal history. The Cardinals invested a fourth-round draft choice in Pallante based on his impressive performance as a college starting pitcher for Cal-Irvine. He earned good reviews as a 23-year-old rookie in 2022.

The Cardinals didn’t entirely rule him out as a starter. They utilized Pallante in the role in ’22 before acquiring Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana at the trading deadline. Pallante did pretty well in 10 starts with the big club, pitching to a 3.58 ERA in ’22.

For reasons that make absolutely no sense, Pallante was denied the opportunity to start in 2023. Why? Bizarre. The Cardinals had an acute shortage of starting-pitching depth last year, but remained inexplicably obsessed in their belief that Pallante was a bullpen guy. And we wonder why this organization lost its way in the ability to develop and properly weaponize young pitchers?

Combining his 10 starts for the Cardinals in 2022, with his seven starts this season, Pallante has a 3.73 ERA in in 89 and ⅔ innings.

Since the beginning of the 2022 season, among the nine STL pitchers that made at least 17 starts over that time, here’s the top-to-bottom scorecard for starting-pitching ERA …

1. Jordan Monthgomery, 32 starts, 3.31
2. Lance Lynn, 17 starts, 3.59
3. Andre Pallante, 17 starts, 3.73
4. Miles Mikolas, 85 starts, 4.27
5. Jack Flaherty, 28 starts, 4.45
6. Dakota Hudson, 38 starts, 4.78
7. Steven Matz, 32 starts, .4.86
8. Adam Wainwright, 53 starts, 4.98
9. Matthew Liberatore, 23 starts. 5.58

My goodness. Pallante was there all along, but the Cardinals didn’t know what they had and didn’t seem all that interested in finding out. It’s a shame. But at least it’s not too late.

Pallante has made the bosses take notice. Out of absolute desperation the Cardinals turned to Pallante to make a start in Cincinnati on May 29. He was excellent that day and led them to a series-clinching win. There were a couple of junky starts after that, vs. Houston and San Francisco, and Pallante was removed too soon in a start at Wrigley Field and the decision to take him out blew up on the Cardinals.

Perhaps the doubts were seeping in again. But Pallante has stayed focused, has been wise to listen to the counsel offered by Kyle Gibson and Sonny Gray, and continues to impress.

Even with two lousy starts mixed in, Pallante has 3.34 in his seven starts this season and the Cardinals are 5-2 in them.

In his two starts against Houston and San Francisco, Pallante was smacked around for 11 earned runs in 8 and ⅓ innings for an 11.88 ERA. OK, terrible and all of that … but Pallante discarded them and got back on track.

In his five starts against Cincinnati (twice), Colorado, Chicago and Pittsburgh, Pallante was chipped for just two earned runs in 26 and ⅔ innings for an 0.68 ERA. Plus he had an above-average 24 percent strikeout rate in the five outings.

Since Pallante entered the rotation on May 29, only Liberatore has a better ERA (1.86) but did that in just two starts. But Pallante has the best ERA among Cards starters that have worked at least five games since May 29. And that should not be be ignored or downplayed:

Since May 29

Pallante, 3.34
Sonny Gray, 3.53
Lynn, 3.86
Mikolas, 4.54
Kyle Gibson, 4.55

I have more “since May 29” stuff …

* Since May 29 Pallante’s 3.34 ERA ranks 14th among National League starting pitchers that have taken the ball for 30+ innings over that time.

* Since May 29 Pallante’s ERA is finer than some notable NL starters including Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Sonny Gray, Brandon Webb, Luis Severino, Jared Jones, Hunter Greene, Dylan Cease and Shota Imanaga.

How about that?

Though he’s a right-handed pitcher, Pallante has been vulnerable to the swings and bashings of right-handed hitters. But he’s countered that by pumping plenty of sinkers at those RH bats in his seven starts. It’s working swimmingly for Pallante, with right-swinging opponents batting .207 and slugging .296 slug in the 26 at-bats that ended with his sinker. In the seven starts Pallante has gotten 58 ground balls, and limited hard contact. The average exit velocity against him is a low 85.3 mph.

This is really good stuff. Pallante has been there all along, except that now the Cardinals have discovered exactly what he is. He’s a starting pitcher. An effective starting pitcher. The Cards may have found a fine new piece for the rotation, but only they can decide if Pallante will stay there.

The Cardinals may not fully trust him yet, but I don’t see how they could possibly make the mistake of forgetting about him again.

Pallante stands out for another reason: after years of failure, the Cardinals are finally developing a good starting pitcher.

They just didn’t expect it to be Pallante.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has provided informed opinions and perspective on St. Louis sports through his columns, radio shows and podcasts since 1985.

Please follow Bernie on Threads @miklaszb

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Brooks Baseball Net, and 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.