State of the St. Louis Cardinals Rotation and the Key for Success in 2017

After bolstering their starting rotation last winter with the signing of Mike Leake, many St. Louis Cardinals fans and the front office alike went into the 2016 season with high hopes especially following their 100 win season and NL Central crown in 2015. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned and Leake had a below average season which only added onto the already depleted rotation that the Cardinals dealt with last year.

Besides Leakes struggles, Lance Lynn also missed the entire season as he was recovering from Tommy John Surgery that he had in November of 2015. Add to that the fact that Michael Wacha struggled severely last season, Adam Wainwright posted an un-Wainwright like season, and you can easily see why the Cardinals had a mess on their hands and had to rely on their offense practically the entire year only to finish 17.5 games back from first place in the NL Central to the widely successful Chicago Cubs.

Heading into the 2017 season, there are still plenty of questions regarding the Cardinals rotation. Will Lance Lynn have a successful bounceback season following Tommy John surgery? Can Mike Leake regain his form and provide some stability in the middle of the rotation? Will Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha return back to their old form and provide the Cardinals with a big boost once again? The answers to all of those questions have yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure and that is if the Cardinals want to be successful in 2017, then they must have another stellar season by Carlos Martinez.

Martinez, who is 25-years old, is eligible for arbitration prior to the start of the 2017 season and is under team control through 2020. Beyond that, there have been rumors that the Cardinals might plan to lock him up beyond 2020 as the Cardinals view him as a significant piece moving forward and a pitcher who will only get better in the next few years as he is just starting to reach his prime.

The righty, also known as Tsunami, has been with the Cardinals organization since April of 2010 when he signed as a free agent. He made his official MLB debut on May 3rd, 2013 and had a poor season that year finishing with a 5.08 ERA in 28.1 IP with a home runs-per-9 ratio of 9.8 and a 1.41 WHIP. During the 2015 season, Martinez did slightly better finishing the year with a 4.03 ERA in 89.1 IP and a strikeout-per-9 ratio of 8.5 which was up from his strikeout-per-9 ratio of 2013, 7.6.

Martinez's real success began in 2015 and carried over to last season. In both seasons combined, Martinez posted a 3.02 ERA in 375 IP and had a career high 184 strikeouts in 2015 along with 174 last year. In addition, he only surrendered 28 home runs in both seasons combined, which put his home runs-per-9 ratio at 0.7, for both 2015 and 2016.

If 2015 and 2016 are any indication, Martinez is set to have a successful 2017 season and he must have a really good one if the Cardinals plan on giving the Cubs a run for their money. Hopefully the rest of the rotation is able to rebound and also pick up Martinez. After all, a starting rotation that consists of a strong Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, a healthy Lance Lynn, and a powerful Mike Leake with a strong, Carlos Martinez, is a pretty darn good one that can keep the Cardinals relevant in the NL Central.