OK, yeah, boring headline; this one probably won’t get a lot of clicks. But it rates as a pretty curious decision to me.
New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Monday that he doesn’t plan to stretch out any of his relievers, a group that includes former starters Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs. In means that in the event of a late injury to one of his five starters, he’ll probably be forced to turn to Brandon Dickson at the back of the rotation.
“When you have a younger ‘pen, you don’t want to confuse the issue,” Matheny said. “When you have guys who are still trying to find their role … right now we have everybody exactly where we want to be.”
Right now, yes. And I strongly believe that major league teams typically go overboard in worrying about the worst-case scenario. But the Cardinals’ sixth, seventh and eighth best starters are all in their bullpen. That could come back to bite them later on.
Of course, if Chris Carpenter or someone else were to suffer an oblique strain tomorrow, there would be plenty of time for the Cardinals to adjust. Lynn would be the obvious choice to move back to the rotation in that case. But if Lynn finishes the spring never having thrown more than two innings in an outing and a starter goes down at the beginning of April, it’s going to take a few outings in stretch him out.
As for Matheny’s reasoning, I think he’s worrying about it a bit too much. Lynn didn’t work as a reliever in the minors before the Cards shifted him to the pen last year, and all he did was post a 2.22 ERA and fan 32 in 24 1/3 innings out of the pen. I think the smart play would be to have him start games this spring, just in case.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.