The Cardinals had Jaime Garcia skip his turn last week due to elbow discomfort, but it appears it wasn’t enough. Dealing with reduced velocity, he was pounded for six runs in two innings before being pulled from Tuesday’s game against the Astros.
Garcia, who was typically working in the 88-90 mph range earlier this season, was throwing 85-87 mph tonight and was also ineffective with his curve. He allowed just his second homer of the year, that coming off the bat of Justin Maxwell. The six runs he gave up took his ERA from 3.78 to 4.48.
There’s a good chance Garcia will join Chris Carpenter on the DL after this one, potentially putting Brandon Dickson into the St. Louis rotation. It’d be another big blow to a team that would fall to .500 on the season with a loss tonight.
Any speculation that Shelby Miller might be the choice to replace Chris Carpenter in early April ended Wednesday with the Cardinals’ decision to reassign him to minor league camp.
Among the others also demoted today were fellow starter Brandon Dickson and third baseman Zack Cox.
Miller, one of baseball’s top prospects, went 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA between high-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield last season. He disappointed a bit with his velocity while allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring, but given that he’s just getting warmed up, it probably isn’t something to worry about.
Dickson, 27, made his major league debut with the Cardinals last summer, allowing three runs over 8 2/3 innings in one start and three relief appearances. He’s another one of the team’s fallback rotation options this season, though a far less exciting one than Miller.
Cox, a 2010 first-round pick, was 2-for-9 with five strikeouts this spring. He and Miller were teammates for most of last season, with both moving up from the FSL to the Texas League partway through. They’ll likely both return to Springfield to start this season.
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.