Cardinals send Tyler Lyons back to AAA Memphis, opening rotation spot for Jaime Garcia

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Tim Cooney got the first crack at replacing Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals’ starting rotation and failed, allowing three runs on seven hits over just 2 1/3 innings on April 30 against the Phillies. Tyler Lyons was the next man up but he also struggled, yielding 10 runs — eight earned — over 13 innings in an audition that spanned three starts. He didn’t make it out of the top of the fourth inning Saturday in the Cardinals’ second straight loss to the Tigers.

That’s gonna do it for the Lyons experiment …

Nothing is official yet, but it looks like oft-injured left-hander Jaime Garcia will fill the Cardinals’ rotation vacancy on Thursday at the Mets’ Citi Field. Garcia has been out all season with a shoulder injury that has lingered now for three years, but he struck out six batters and allowed only two runs over six innings Friday in his latest rehab start at Double-A Springfield. He was shelled for five runs in 2 2/3 innings the outing before.

Garcia has always been an effective starting pitcher when healthy, boasting a 3.50 ERA and 476 strikeouts in 594 2/3 career major league innings. St. Louis is paying him a $9.25 million salary this season in the final year of a four-year, $27 million contract extension. If Garcia struggles or begins feeling renewed discomfort in his throwing shoulder, 23-year-old left-hander Marco Gonzales will probably get the next chance.

Wainwright is done for the season following surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon.