“Get us the heck out of Milwaukee!” That’s the song everyone is singing in St. Louis. First Molina goes down, then Wainwright, now Heyward all in the span of three days. Heyward and Molina’s situation, at least as far as the general public knows, is manageable and both can be monitored without going on the DL. Wainwright on the other hand, will be out for the season with a ruptured Achilles, leaving the Cardinals with some roster moves to make. There are a plethora of ideas being thrown around to remedy the situation. Some of these ideas are more realistic than others, though.
Wainwright will leave a hole that is extremely hard to fill. As the staff ace, Wainwright was excelling with a 1.44 ERA in four games started in 25 innings pitched. With how the Cardinals have been playing in recent years, it’s easy to say that St. Louis will need to replace 16-20 wins with Waino out. That will be no easy task, seeing as most of the talent out there is either on the DL or spoken for. Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, and company will have to step up in the meantime to help alleviate some of the pressure on the next man up. But the question of the day is, who will it be?
This situation is an unusual one with both of the primary solutions being on the DL currently. GM John Mozeliak usually would like to pick up an arm from the minors to fill in like Marco Gonzales (Precautionary DL) or Jaime Garcia (Shoulder Discomfort). Problem is, both pitchers are on the DL and cannot make the spot start this coming Thursday. One of these two will more than likely be the primary solution for the rest of the year to round out the rotation. In the short term though, Mo will have to look elsewhere.
So who else is out there? Phil Rogers of MLB.com posted an article advocating for John Danks of the Chicago White Sox. Danks, 30, is an inning-eating Left-hander that has thrown over 130 innings in 7 of his 8 prior major league seasons. Danks doesn’t necessarily set the world on fire though with his career 4.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and not to mention he gives up the long ball fairly often (1.2 HR/9). One thing Rogers does point out is that he is efficient against NL batters with a 3.09 ERA and a 10-7 record. To add to an already dull proposition, Danks is owed $26Mil and it may be difficult to get the White Sox to pay his contract. Lost in all this talk is what the Cardinals would have to give up for Danks, which could be substantial, and that just doesn’t sound like John Mozeliak.
Right now, the best option is to take an arm from the minors and give them a shot to make the most of the situation. The current options that have been mentioned as per Jennifer Langosch are Tim Cooney and Tyler Lyons. We have been through the Lyons experiment in the past and he pitches well at times but overall is incredibly streaky. Lyons is 2-8 with a 4.62 ERA in 12 starts. Lyons will be the likely start seeing as he has a spot on the 40-man roster. Tim Cooney is the other option mentioned and he is another lefty who has greatly surpassed his projected talent and draft position. Cooney, 24, has a career minors ERA of 3.50 and has the ability to eat innings just as well and for a fraction of the price of John Danks. Quite a few similarities can be drawn between Cooney and Danks, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you are looking for innings to fill. The problem with Cooney is that a move will have to be made to take someone off of the 40-man roster for Cooney to pitch Thursday. Zach Petrick is another name floated by Dan McLaughlin on the broadcast yesterday afternoon. He had a great spring but he remains off of the 40-man roster. Petrick has great stuff but he’s struggled so far in AAA and has an ERA over 10 to start the season. It may be an easy task to add one of these guys to the 40-man, but the easiest route is to go with Lyons for the one start and assess where Gonzales is before moving forward with Lyons.
The biggest thing to remember is that the pitcher making the spot start is most likely going to go back down to AAA immediately. So making the move for Cooney makes even less sense at this point. Marco Gonzales or Jaime Garcia will be the long term answer and rightfully so; given that both have pitched admirably in the past for the Cardinals. Honestly, one gets the feeling that the situation surrounding Jaime Garcia is much more complicated than it looks. Marco, if healthy, would be the ideal choice and it seems safer to assume this since the only reason he’s on the DL is precautionary compared to Garcia’s actual shoulder discomfort. There shouldn’t be any trades either because of the already large amount of young talent waiting in the wings. Moreover, it’s just not Mozeliak’s style this early in the season.
The panic bus should remain in the junkyard for now Cardinals fans! The current rotation is solid still and will have to pick up the slack. Time to see what some of the other young guns can do!
Prediction: Lyons with the spot start, Gonzales for the long haul.
There’s no denying that many in the NL have began to re-think DH. Wainwright is a popular figure in the MLB and may get the ball rolling on talks for a rule change. It may not be a bad thing to minimize unnecessary risks for high paid pitchers. Who knows? Only time will tell.