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Poll: How Should Cardinals Best Use Alex Reyes?

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.

Further, no help is coming from Memphis. Mike Mayers is the only potential addition and he is third in priority after Luke Weaver and Reyes. Of course the latter two are already with St. Louis.

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.

For the rest of this season, should Alex Reyes

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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15 Responses to “Poll: How Should Cardinals Best Use Alex Reyes?”

  1. crdswmn says:

    Isn’t there some concern about his ability to pitch beyond 4-5 innings? If so, perhaps starting the Wild Card game (if they get there) would be ideal. Have piggy back options, and that would free up the regulars to pitch if they advance.

    • Brian Walton says:

      What about the five weeks between now and then?

      • crdswmn says:

        I don’t have a problem with starting Reyes occasionally. I would just rather not put him in the rotation to keep his innings low enough to use him heavily later. If another starter goes down, though, all bets are off.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Not sure what “starting occasionally” means. Are you in favor of skipping starts for one or more of the pitchers or using a sixth starter at certain times through the rotation?

          Seems like your real answer for now is to keep him in the pen until something changes with one of the current five.

          • crdswmn says:

            Why not alternate Weaver and Reyes?

            • Brian Walton says:

              OK, piggy back them, then? How does that really limit innings for either one since neither seems more than a four or five-inning option?

              Plus that would mean Reyes would have to be held out of backing up the other four starters.

              • crdswmn says:

                I was thinking more along the lines of alternating starts, but if neither can go more than five innings that would tax the bullpen. It seems to me that neither are a good starting option in that case. Either one or both of them needs to go 6+ innings, or I don’t see the point of either in the rotation.

                Hasn’t Weaver gone 6+ innings in the minors? Rosters can expand in a week, so bringing up extra arms would ease the bullpen situation it would seem.

                I don’t really see a problem with putting Reyes in the rotation per se, but I have always gotten the impression that Mozeliak doesn’t want to do that with him, hence the call up of Weaver. If that is the case, then he has his reasons, and I am not going to be quick to second guess him.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    We are paying wainwright $19.5mm and Leake $17mm, they aren’t getting time off to sit around. Jamie needs to earn a job next year. It’s great to give Weaver starting experience, Reyes is obtaining great experience too. I likes mikes outlook, upon this occasion.

  3. blingboy says:

    I would take Wainwright out of the rotation for a while. See if he can be consistently effective in a relief role rather than inconsistent as a starter.

    We have no idea what will happen when hitters get more familiar with Reyes and when he has to go through lineups more than twice. But we also have no idea what will happen each time Adam goes out there.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Good points, but it looks like Leake’s shingles may have resolved this temporarily.

      P.S. My apologies on the loss of photos. The site WordPress software was updated over the weekend and this seems to be a casualty – I hope temporarily.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    The cards have had a lot of injuries to pitchers that contribute to where we are at. Lyons. Cooney. Gonzales. Lynn. Wacha.
    Maness. Harris. Rosenthal. Walden.

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