One of my most fond memories from covering the Winter Warmup in January was seeing the Cardinals players up close and out of uniform. As far as size was concerned, Matt Holliday left the biggest mark as far as mass was concerned. However, when I found out how tall Kevin Siegrist was, I instantly understood how opposing hitters felt when he glared towards them on the mound with his blazing fastball, sparkling breaking pitch, and RH/LH capability. He was a mountain and that was news to me. Well, Cards fans, that tall mountain is going on the disabled list with a strain forearm, and there is no telling how long he will be out. Let’s run down the list of factors and details associated with this injury as the Cardinals and Reds open up play tonight at The Great American Ballpark.
*First, a strain is a tear in medical terms. The question now is how bad of a strain it is and where exactly the injury located at. If it’s the forearm and the strain is severe, Siegrist could be out for a while. If it is near the elbow part of the forearm, I don’t need to spell that one out for fans currently aware of the Tommy John epidemic. For now, the news is that it’s a strain of the forearm.
*Lingering signs? Was there anyway this could have been prevented? Probably not. Power arms going down isn’t a new sight and won’t be any time soon. Siegrist got 4 outs last night in Cincinnati and looked solid doing it, but has been worked over by Mike Matheny so far this season. Siegrist has been used in 23 games this season, or nearly half the amount of total games played. He has pitched 20 innings even. While he hasn’t been as lights out as he was in 45 appearances in 2013, Siegrist has been highly effective. His fielding independent ERA has only risen from 2.29 to 2.36 this season and his strikeouts per 9 innings has increased to 12.2. Siegrist is holding hitters to a .230 batting average but lefties have gotten to him for a .310 average. Siegrist has been used all around and everywhere so far in 2014 and he is the first arm to fall.
*Power arms are dropping lately. I can only wonder how long it will be before Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez blow their elbows out. All three have been pitching a lot of innings and especially in high leverage situations. One would be lying if they thought pitching with the bases loaded was the same as pitching with them empty. These players are still very young and obviously try to do too much in certain spots. If fans want to linger on the effect of Jonny Gomes big 3 run blast has on Seth Maness, remember Siegrist was untouchable until David Ortiz parked a bomb off him in Game 1 of the World Series. The young man has plenty of mental baggage.
*What kind of effect does this have on the bullpen in the short term? Sam Freeman is coming up to Cincy as we speak, and I can only hope Matheny unleashes him in multiple situations. If his wild arm starts to allow too many walks, you know what you don’t have in Siegrist’s place and it may be time to check the market or the farm(Tim Cooney) for a replacement. Freeman gets the first chance to pick up some mileage as a major league pitcher. He’s been up and down and knows the I-55 route better than most. What kind of effect does he have?
*Long term plan could be finally promoting live armed veteran David Aardsma to the big club and sending Carlos Martinez down to unclog his head and work on a changeup. Aardsma was an effective big league closer and is mowing down hitters at Memphis. Martinez may be needed elsewhere in August and September so sending him down to stretch him out could be best. The first thing that comes to mind when Siegrist goes down is Martinez, but what good is the team with an ineffective Baby Carlos? Send Carlos down and call up Aardsma and you have two fresh arms in the pen.
Kevin Siegrist may miss two weeks or he could miss more. For now, there isn’t much hard data out there. What I can tell you is that a strain is a legit injury and it won’t just go away with some therapy and rest. It may take time. Matheny and John Mozeliak need to figure out what’s best for this bullpen because expecting Jason Motte to slide up into consistent high leverage duty is foolhardy. The fresher the bullpen is the better the team is equipped to deal in the middle stretch of the season.
The Siegrist injury may be a well timed wakeup call to the coaching staff and management.
Thanks for reading and have a good holiday weekend!