Three players who need to improve for the Cardinals to contend in 2024
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Three players who need to improve for the Cardinals to contend in 2024

A fifth of the way into the 2024 MLB season, there have been plenty of surprise teams to start the season, and some have gotten off to disappointing starts. 

One of those disappointing teams is the St. Louis Cardinals, currently 15-19 and in last place in the National League Central. With the gap continuing to widen between them and first place.

Here are three players who need to produce for the Cardinals if they want a chance to turn things around in 2024. 

Paul Goldschmidt, first base

2024 stats: .208/.298/.280, two home runs and 11 RBI in 33 games played

Off to the worst start in his 14-year MLB career, Goldschmidt has been in a prolonged slump that has been detrimental to his team.

The Cardinals are currently ranked last in home runs and runs scored in the NL while having the second-worst team batting average at .214.

With only five of his 26 hits on the season going for extra bases, he has already been dropped down in the lineup after hitting second for the majority of his time in St. Louis.

The 2022 National League MVP is looking like time is catching up to him.

At 36 years old and coming off his worst season in 2023, if he can't get it going the Cardinals will likely be heading toward their second-straight last-place finish in the NL Central and Goldschmidt could very well find himself on the trade block.

Brendan Donovan, utilityman 

2024 stats: .215/.295/.354, three home runs and 18 RBI in 33 games played

After a solid rookie season in 2022, Donovan was putting together another solid season before it was cut short to an elbow injury in 2023.

With big expectations entering 2024, the season hasn't quite gone his way.

Hitting leadoff for the Cardinals, Donovan has had trouble getting on base consistently. While he has been able to pack a little punch with 11 of his 28 hits going for extra bases, his teammates behind him haven't been able to capitalize with him in scoring position. 

While Donovan is still very much a part of the Cardinals' future plans, the 27-year-old has gotten off to an underwhelming start and will play a vital part in improving their offensive numbers in 2024.

Miles Mikolas, starting pitcher

2024 stats: 2-4, 5.68 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 29 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched

Another player coming off of a down season, Mikolas has seen his struggles carry over into this season. 

The MLB leader in hits allowed last season with 226 in 201.1 innings pitched, Mikolas is currently tied for fifth with 46 hits allowed and is in the top 10 in home runs allowed and earned runs allowed.

He has thrown pitches, like the one below, that have looked non-competitive and not what you would expect from a major league pitcher. 

In the first season of his two-year contract extension, Mikolas is making $17.6M this season and is set to make the same in 2025.

The Cardinals need him to find a way to replicate his success from 2022 that led to his new deal when he went 12-13 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 153 strikeouts in 202.1 innings pitched.

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