The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Time to revisit McClellan in the rotation?

The Cardinals need another dependable starter. They may have one in their bullpen.

Kyle McClellan (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Reality set in for Jaime Garcia on Friday night – taking 82 pitches to get just ten outs – the reality is that he isn’t going to be able to maintain an ERA at two all season long. Most likely, there are some further bumps ahead and if so, the Cardinals’ first-half big three of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Garcia, may drop to just two.

Kyle McClellan then came in to get Garcia out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth inning and went on to toss another scoreless frame. He fanned one and yielded just one hit while picking up his first win of the season as the resurgent offense expanded their lead over visiting Los Angeles in the eventual 8-4 victory.

The Cardinals need at least one more dependable starter.

Why not Kyle?

McClellan was tried in the role this spring, but Garcia just plain beat him out. He didn’t lose the job, they all said.  It is only a matter of time until he is a starter, they assert. Interestingly, Kyle had a lower spring ERA and lower opposing batting average than Jaime.

Maybe now is the time to revisit the situation.

Yes, I know GM John Mozeliak said if he had one bullet, he would use it on a starting pitcher. What if he can’t find anyone better than Jeff Suppan in the trade market at an affordable cost?

Yes, I know Kyle Lohse is supposed to throw a bullpen on Saturday and Brad Penny is in indefinite limbo. If miracles occurred and there were too many effective starters, McClellan could always slide back into the pen.

Yes, I know McClellan isn’t stretched out. Neither was Blake Hawksworth when he was moved from relief.

Yes, I know McClellan is said to be too valuable in the bullpen. I also know that compared to the rotation, the pen is in pretty good shape, with an ERA of 3.50, fourth-best in the National League. On the other hand, the Cardinals are just 13-20 in games not started by the first-half big three this season. Where is the help more needed?

While McClellan has a stellar 2.05 ERA, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte have moved into more important roles and done well, easing the potential loss of McClellan in relief.

Further, one of the best closers in Triple-A, Fernando Salas, 17-for-17 in save situations, is waiting in Memphis for his fourth chance after impressing in each of his first three MLB trials this season.

Would you rather see Salas relieving McClellan or McClellan relieving Suppan?

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