Sunday, January 20, 2013
Rotation battle in St. Louis
By Jason Catania
When it comes to fighting over the final spot in the rotation, the St. Louis Cardinals are going to have a knock-down, drag-out kinda battle on their hands.
The four locks are Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook, while Lance Lynn has a leg up on the competition for the No. 5 slot, especially after winning 18 games with a 3.78 ERA as a rookie last year.
It might seem crazy, then, to think that the five-man actually isn't settled. But there are two important aspects at play here: First, the left-handed Garcia is dealing with a shoulder injury that hampered him late last season (video courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold); and second, the other arms in consideration are a heck of a lot more than just typical depth.
Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly are three right-handers who debuted in 2012, and each one is ready to step into a starting job, should something open up this spring. Miller, 22, is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, while Rosenthal was a relief weapon down the stretch and in the postseason, regularly hitting triple-digits with his fastball. The 24-year-old Kelly doesn't have quite the upside of the first two, but he also was the one the club turned to as a fill-in starter last year, and all he did was post a 3.53 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 107 innings.
Miller is most likely to get the first shot to replace Garcia if the left-hander isn't ready to start the season, and as of now his availability isn't being counted on, writes the Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss. Rosenthal, meanwhile, could fit in nicely as a shutdown late-inning arm. Kelly, then, may wind up being relegated to Triple-A, but given the injury histories of Carpenter, Garcia and Westbrook, it seems plausible that all three of these young arms will be major factors in the Cardinals' 2013 season.
There's certainly the possibility that GM John Mozeliak could look to deal one of them to upgrade his 25-man roster, which has question marks at both middle infield positions, but as the adage goes, "You can never have too much pitching."