Cardinals’ Mozeliak not concerned about rotation age

Cardinals pitcher Sonny Gray throws a bullpen session during Thursday’s spring training workout in Jupiter, Fla. (Associated Press)
Cardinals pitcher Sonny Gray throws a bullpen session during Thursday’s spring training workout in Jupiter, Fla. (Associated Press)

JUPITER, Fla. -- John Mozeliak looks at the Cardinals pitching staff and isn’t worried about older arms.

“Unlike like our upcoming election, I am not overly concerned with age in this current state,” the team’s president of baseball operations said Wednesday as spring training workouts began. “I do feel like what we missed a lot last year was more experience. And so trying to take or tie age and experience together usually is pretty common.”

St. Louis was fifth in the National League Central last year at 71-91, its first losing season since 2007 and its most losses since 1990. The Cardinals added three starting pitchers as free agents, reaching a three-year, $75-million deal with Sonny Gray and one-year agreements with Kyle Gibson ($13 million) and Lance Lynn ($11 million).

Lynn (37 in May), Gibson (36) and Gray (34) join holdover rotation candidates that include Miles Mikolas (35) and Steven Matz (33 in May).

“It’s just guys that understand what it’s like to go pole-to-pole, the understanding of what it’s like to have to take the ball for 30 starts,” Mozeliak said. “All of these guys have been through that. They understand it, and that’s just going to be really helpful with some of our younger pitchers that are trying to get to that point.”

Gray was 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA last year with Minnesota and finished second to the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole in American League Cy Young Award voting. Mozeliak and manager Oliver Marmol watched his bullpen session Tuesday.

“That’s exactly what we’re hoping to see,” Mozeliak said. “Anybody that got to watch that bullpen yesterday, he’s almost like someone that’s just like sort of articulating what he’s about to do, what he wants to see done. And he then grades himself like if he did it well or not.”

Lynn allowed a big league-high 44 homers last year with the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

“He’s a very confident man,” Mozeliak said. “He understands that last year there were some things that he was probably doing that he should have gotten away from sooner and hopefully, from a coaching standpoint, from a strategic standpoint, those are things we can work through. He’s certainly open-minded to it.”

In Matthew Liberatore and Drew Rom (24) and Zack Thompson (26), the Cardinals have younger pitchers who could break into the starting rotation. The trio combined to go 6-13 with a 5.98 ERA in 28 starts last year.

Ideally, they won’t have to start any games this season.

St. Louis opens the season with games on eight consecutive days, four at the Los Angeles Dodgers, three at San Diego and the April 4 home opener against Miami, part of an opening that has the Cardinals scheduled for 13 games in 14 days. A six-man rotation at the start is possible.

“We are debating it, but I don’t know if that’s what we’ll do, because a lot of these guys would prefer to be on five.” Mozeliak said.