Two related items from Kevin Wheeler of ESPN 101 on Twitter regarding the St. Louis Cardinals starting five:
The #STLCards rotation has a 5.79 ERA over the past 30 days. The only teams that have been worse: Phillies, Twins, D-Backs, Angels, Braves.
#STLCards starters over the past 30 days: Martinez – 4.80 ERA Weaver – 5.00 ERA Garcia – 5.67 ERA Leake – 5.90 ERA Wainwright – 7.71 ERA
That is the painful reality.
Here is another set of facts.
Alex Reyes, the organization’s top prospect and one of the very best in all of baseball, has been extremely impressive since making his MLB debut just two weeks ago. The right-hander is unscored upon in 9 1/3 innings, with 13 strikeouts against four walks and five hits allowed.
It seems pretty clear that the 21-year-old is one of the team’s best five pitchers currently.
Given all this, what should the Cardinals do to help shore up their rotation?
There is no immediate help coming from the disabled list. Even if Lance Lynn beats the odds and returns early from Tommy John surgery, it will almost certainly be as a reliever. No one is saying anything optimistic about Michael Wacha being able to start again this season.
In the past few days – with Weaver carrying that 5.00 ERA through two starts totaling just nine innings and Reyes dominating as a yet-to-be scored upon reliever – some are calling for the two to reverse roles. In other words, why not put Reyes in the rotation, they ask?
Manager Mike Matheny has opened the door a crack, based on these comments about Reyes, as reported by the Post-Dispatch.
“From the beginning, we’ve had restrictions with him this year,” Matheny said after Tuesday’s game. “We’ve got to be smart. (If) we get our back up against the wall, we need somebody, he’ll be in the conversation.”
I can clearly see benefit, as there has never been any real question as to who is going to be the better pitcher between the two prospects. Yet, I am wondering what the best move for the 2016 Cardinals may be.
Look again at how consistently poor all five starters are performing. Swapping out Weaver for Reyes might improve one day of every five at best – unless Weaver can prove to be as successful as a reliever as Reyes as has been. Even rotation improvement is not assured, given Reyes has yet to prove he is more than a five-inning pitcher at this stage of his career. Further, even he will certainly encounter some turbulence ahead.
Instead, if Reyes can pitch more frequently as a long man, could he have a greater impact backing up as many of the five shaky starters as possible? Of course, getting a floundering starter out of the game before the team is down by five or six runs would seem to be an important step, as well. Otherwise, Reyes could be wasted in garbage time.
Again, I don’t see this as a 2017 question, but one for the here and now.
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