Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

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After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.

Apparent roster snafu changes Blue Jays pitching plans

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ATLANTA — An apparent roster snafu forced the Toronto Blue Jays to change their pitching plans for Thursday night’s game at the Atlanta Braves.

After Nate Pearson gave up three runs in five innings, manager Charlie Montoyo brought in right-hander Jacob Waguespack to open the sixth.

As Waguespack walked to the mound, he was greeted by home plate umpire Alan Porter, who apparently delivered some bad news: The right-hander wasn’t on the 28-man active roster for the game.

The Blue Jays optioned Waguespack and infielder Santiago Espinal to the team’s alternate training site on Thursday to reach the 28-man roster limit.

Montoyo told reporters before the game Waguespack had been recalled when right-hander Trent Thornton was placed on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. That move apparently was not processed, leaving Waguespack off the active roster.

Waguespack walked to the dugout and Montoyo brought in Rafael Dolis as the official replacement for Pearson.