(BaseballStL) -- This spring training I spoke with Adam Wainwright about how the Cardinals stack up against the rest of baseball in 2013. He said, to him, evaluating a team starts and ends with the starting rotation. He believes a great rotation can overwhelm the opposition and carry its club a long ways.
So how does the Cards rotation look? Well, I suppose that depends if you're the eternal optimist or pessimist.
On one hand you've got one of the best pitchers in baseball in Adam Wainwright, an All Star in Lance Lynn, a lefty in Jaime Garcia who has some of the filthiest stuff around, a solid innings eater in Jake Westbrook and a future super star in Shelby Miller.
On the other hand, however, Adam Wainwright might have to do things alone. The pessimists would point to the decline Lance Lynn showed at the end of 2012 (4.32 ERA, .279 opponents batting average after the All Star break). They would point to the inconsistencies of Jaime Garcia (2.82 ERA at home, 5.02 ERA on the road). They would also point to the fact Jake Westbrook is no ace and Shelby Miller has no experience.
Then, oh by the way, should someone get hurt there's not exactly an obvious fill in starter ready to take over. Joe Kelly is needed in the bullpen with Jason Motte hurt leaving, quite possibly, Michael Wacha as next in line.
It's true. If everything were to go right for the Cards rotation this season it could easily be among the league's best. There's talent. Like, an obscene amount. But anyone who knows anything about baseball knows 162 games does not allow for everything to go right. Things always go wrong.
People get hurt. People don't perform the way they were expected to. Things happen.
So, the logical assumption would be for neither the optimists nor the pessimists to get what they're expecting. Things won't go 100% smoothly for the rotation or 100% wrong. It'll be somewhere in the middle.
Figuring out what that will be is nearly impossible but there are clues to work with. First of all, I think it's safe to say you know what you're going get from Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook. Wainwright is a dominant starter who finished his first year back from Tommy John surgery strong and is primed for a big season. Westbrook, meanwhile, is a steady back-of-the-rotation starter who - more often than not - gives his team a decent chance to win.
What the other three (Lynn, Garcia, Miller) will do will determine how good this rotation is as a whole. And, quite possibly, how good this team is in 2013.