As many St. Louis Cardinals fans already know by now, manager Mike Matheny announced on Wednesday that pitcher Joe Kelly is moving from the rotation to the bullpen this weekend in anticipation of the club activating Jaime Garcia for a Sunday start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The final decision was made after determining that Garcia’s shoulder was sound after his 93-pitch outing for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday night, his fourth minor league rehab start.
Another alternative that received some attention was the idea of going to a six-man rotation. Coincidentally, this is an approach currently being deployed by the Atlanta Braves.
Like the Cards, the Braves have a very good fourth-year starter ready to come off the disabled list with no obvious rotation spot for him. Right-hander Tommy Hanson has been out with a lower back strain.
Once Hanson takes the ball Friday night against the Dodgers, the Braves will go with a six-man rotation at least until their next day off on August 30, manager Fredi Gonzalez announced. Of course, that assumes the group can remain healthy.
At the trade deadline, Atlanta added veteran Paul Maholm from the Cubs to join the oft-injured but highly-talented ex-Brewer Ben Sheets in their rotation. Ace Tim Hudson has come back from injury problems of his own. Kris Medlen was recently moved into the rotation, while former top prospect Mike Minor has been uneven in his first full big-league season starting.
You may be able to see how several of the Cardinals starters’ stories could line up against them.
The Braves also offer an interesting comparison to the Cardinals given the battle between the two last season for the lone National League Wild Card berth that went down to the final day.
Once again in 2012, both clubs are in second place. Atlanta is a bit more comfortable than St. Louis, with four more wins at 68-49. They hold a four-game lead over Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the race for what are now two Wild Cards.
One major difference in the clubs is that the Braves’ pen ranks second in the NL with a 3.07 ERA. Though the Cardinals have appeared to stabilize their relief corps recently, their season-long 4.21 ERA is only 10th. Only one of the 16 NL bullpens, Houston, has fewer wins than the Cardinals relievers’ 10 this season.
The Cardinals and Braves are done with each other for the regular season, as they played three-game home and away series in May. Atlanta taking five of six contributed heavily to the Cards’ worst month of the season at 13-16.
Unlike last season, if the two clubs finish one and two in the Wild Card standings again, they would meet each other in a one-game play-in contest. The winner would advance into the NL Division Series while the loser would head home for the winter after game 163.
Here is how the respective staffs currently stack up.
|Tommy Hanson#||RHP||12-5||4.29||Jaime Garcia#||LHP||3-4||4.48|
|Kris Medlen||RHP||3-1||2.28||Joe Kelly*||RHP||3-5||3.41|
|Mike Minor||LHP||6-9||4.93||Lance Lynn||RHP||13-5||3.65|
|Tim Hudson||RHP||12-4||3.59||Adam Wainwright||RHP||11-10||3.87|
|Ben Sheets||RHP||4-2||2.13||Kyle Lohse||RHP||12-2||2.72|
|Paul Maholm||LHP||11-7||3.39||Jake Westbrook||RHP||12-8||3.62|
|All starters 2012||50-39||3.96||All starters 2012||54-34||3.54|
|# currently on DL||* moved to the pen|