For teams out of contention, the nightmare that is the 2023 season will soon be over, as there are only four days left on the regular season schedule.
Perhaps no team is more eager to put the 2023 season behind them than the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis is usually a perennial postseason contender, but will be sitting out this year. This marks the first time that they'll miss the playoffs since 2018.
They have also assured themselves of their first losing season in 16 years. They'll hope to bounce back in 2024.
The team and its fans alike are hoping that 2023 is just a rare outlier and that the Cardinals will be back in contention by the time 2024 rolls around. They won an NL Central title last year and were widely expected to repeat their performance in 2023, but they were not successful in that regard and are now set to finish in last place in the NL Central.
In this piece, we will break down three reasons why St. Louis will bounce back and return to contention in 2024, while also proving that 2023 was just an outlier.
Reasons the St. Louis Cardinals can contend next year: 3. A last-place finish will motivate them to do more
What ultimately hurt the Cardinals this year was their pitching or lack thereof. They lost Jose Quintana in free agency last year and did not add any other starting pitchers, instead opting to go with a rotation that featured Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery, Adam Wainwright, and Steven Matz. Only one of those five is currently still in the rotation.
But the pitching is what failed them. The Cards haven't finished in last place since 1990. Their offseasons and trade deadlines have been relatively quiet in recent years. But for a team that prides itself on winning consistently, 2023 may serve as a wake-up call for some change.
Seasons like this one are incredibly rare in St. Louis. Prior to this year, they had finished over the .500 mark for 15 consecutive seasons. That obviously has changed now. But it's always possible that the way this season has gone will make them rethink their strategy and understand that more will need to be done in order for the team to contend in 2024.
Fans may not have much faith in Mozeliak at the moment, and it's easy to see why, but the Cardinals have an opportunity to correct a great error.