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The St. Louis Cardinals are eager to return to contending ways in 2024, and to that end,  the development of 26-year old pitcher Zack Thompson will be a key thing to monitor for them given the team’s need for more quality starting pitching. In 2023, Thompson’s role fluctuated; while he had 25 total appearances for a total of 66.1 innings, only nine of them came with him as the starter. For the upcoming season, it remains to be seen how Oliver Marmol and the Cardinals will be utilizing Thompson. “My whole offseason plan has just been making sure physically and mentally I’m in a spot to be prepared to try to throw 200 innings,” Thompson said, per Lynn Worthy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Is Zack Thompson the Secret Weapon for the Cardinals’ Starting Rotation?

The St. Louis Cardinals are determined to make a comeback in 2024, and they have their sights set on 26-year-old pitcher Zack Thompson. With the team in need of quality starting pitching, Thompson’s development will be a crucial factor to watch. In 2023, Thompson’s role on the team was constantly changing, with only nine of his 25 appearances being as a starter.

The Cardinals’ plans for Thompson in the upcoming season are still uncertain, but the young pitcher is already preparing himself for a heavy workload. In an interview with Lynn Worthy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Thompson shared, “My whole offseason plan has just been making sure physically and mentally I’m in a spot to be prepared to try to throw 200 innings.”

Driven to Succeed

As a first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Thompson has high expectations for himself. He wants to establish himself as a key player for the Cardinals after a rollercoaster 2023 season. “I think it just drives me more as much as anything,” Thompson said. “Bouncing around between the rotation and the bullpen, finding some weaknesses in my game, some weaknesses in my preparation. I tried to knock that out this offseason. I’m working on a couple of new weapons, making sure I’m ready to go as a starter.”

A Season of Ups and Downs

Last season, Thompson not only switched between the rotation and bullpen, but also went back and forth between Triple-A and the MLB. He started the 2023 season as a bullpen piece, but was sent down to Triple-A in an attempt to convert him into a starter. He returned to the majors in July and had nine starts, posting decent numbers.

According to Worthy, Thompson had a 4.57 ERA in his nine starts, with over a strikeout per inning. While his raw talent is promising, Thompson will need to learn how to limit hard contact in order to solidify his spot in the rotation for the long term. With his determination and drive, Thompson could emerge as a dangerous weapon for the Cardinals in their quest for a successful season.