MLB.com is running a “10 questions”
series for all 30 MLB teams and I’ll go over a few of the more
interesting tidbits today. We’ll start with a piece by Ken Gurnick about the Dodgers:
Is this a make-or-break season for catcher Russell Martin?
Management hasn’t given up on Martin, but it isn’t ignoring his
two-year regression. Don’t be surprised if A.J. Ellis gets a lot of
playing time in Spring Training, and don’t be surprised if he makes a
serious run at Martin’s job.
That, my friends, is insane. Ellis, 29, has just one major league hit to his credit and despite an impressive on-base
percentage in the minors, he has just four home runs over the past two
seasons (697 plate appearances). Ellis won’t push Martin for his job,
but he could save him from the heavy workload (he has caught over 143 games in each of the last three seasons) that has taken a toll on his bat and his legs.
Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver has been reassigned to the bullpen, manager Mike Shildt announced Sunday. Fellow righty Daniel Poncedeleon will take his spot in the rotation for the time being, though it’s still unclear whether Weaver’s demotion is a permanent one or not.
Still, it’s not the most surprising of moves, especially as the club advances toward a potential playoff berth in October. Weaver, 24, has struggled to find his groove this season after putting up a 6-11 record in 24 starts and a 4.67 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2018. During two of his last three outings in August, he was pulled before the fifth inning, citing mechanical issues with his delivery that may be impacting his fastball location and delivery and having an adverse effect on his results — and those of the team — as well.
Poncedeleon, on the other hand, appears primed to take on more responsibility following an impressive run with the Cardinals this summer. He maintained a sub-3.00 ERA through his first six appearances, issuing four runs, nine walks, and 10 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings. While he hasn’t handled more than one start in the big leagues, his track record in the minors speaks to his ability to get consistent results on the mound: he went 9-3 in 17 starts at Triple-A Memphis with a 2.15 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 across 92 innings. He’s scheduled to cover for Weaver on Tuesday against the Pirates and will presumably continue to pitch out of the rotation for the remaining six weeks of the season.