Fortunately for the Cardinals, Chris Carpenter got hurt in early March, rather than at the end of the month.
Manager Mike Matheny made the curious decision last month to have Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs all prepare as relievers this spring, even though those three guys seemed to be his next best rotation options in case something happened to one of his top five. Sure enough, Carpenter went down with a neck injury, leaving the Cardinals with a decision to make. Now Lynn, who pitched a scoreless inning against the Marlins on Saturday, will transition back to the rotation.
Lynn was a starter in the minors, and he made his first two major league appearances in that role before shifting to the pen and coming up big for the Cardinals last summer and in October. He had a 2.22 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings of relief work.
With a few weeks to go before Opening Day, there’s still plenty of time for Lynn to get ready to throw five or six innings in a first-week start. That wouldn’t have been the case had Carpenter gone down on March 25 instead. So, while things have worked out okay for Matheny, one of his first decisions as Cardinals manager already looks like something of a rookie mistake.