Even without injured ace Chris Carpenter, who did not appear during 2013, the St. Louis Cardinals called upon 10 pitchers to take turns in the rotation during the regular season. Seven of them made nine or more starts for the eventual National League champions.
The stories behind veteran Adam Wainwright and rookies Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will be told later in this countdown. This time, we will look at the other four busy starters – two of whom were steady and two who were unsteady – during 2013.
On the other hand, Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia had ups before major downs. They both got out of the gates smartly, contributing to St. Louis’ fast start. Yet neither was a factor down the stretch – the former due to ineffectiveness and the latter due to injury.
Lynn proved he could be the workhorse anticipated when he was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2008. In 2013, the right-hander made a career‐high 33 starts, pitching over 200 innings for the first time while logging 19 quality starts.
A fast starter, Lynn posted 11 wins prior to the All‐Star break for the second consecutive season. Different from 2012 was that he got his mojo back after a second-half slide. Lynn struggled through a team-worst five-game losing streak from August 9 through September 5.
In the final month, Lynn was fantastic, helping St. Louis lock down the NL Central title. He yielded just seven earned runs (eight total) in his five September starts. That 2.12 ERA marked his best month of the season.
During the same time that Lynn was struggling, Kelly stepped up. After moving from the bullpen into the rotation for the second consecutive season in July, all the right-hander did was win. Specifically, Kelly logged a team-best eight-game winning streak from July 12 through September 6.
As a starter, Kelly went 9‐3 with a 2.28 ERA, allowing two or less runs in 11 of his 15 starts. He held opponents to a collective .247 batting average and gave up just five home runs while in the rotation. Not a bad showing for a man who did not make the starting five out of spring camp.
Two of the starters that did begin the season in the rotation were Garcia and Westbrook. Fortunately, others were able to step in and pick up the slack when they faltered.
Westbrook had a tremendous beginning, logging a 2.88 ERA in his 12 first-half starts. The veteran faded badly after the break, however, with a second half ERA of 7.78. The 36-year-old was moved into the pen in early September, rarely pitching before being given the final-day regular season start as a send-off. The current free agent was inactive during the post-season.
Amid questions lingering from 2012 about his left shoulder, Garcia pitched well in 2013 spring training. The 27-year-old did not make it though May, however, before requiring season-ending surgery. Garcia ended his year with a 5-2 record with a 3.58 in nine starts. He hopes to regain his starting spot in 2014 and should do so if healthy. Kelly may again be on the outside of the rotation looking in.