The Cardinals have activated righty Michael Wacha today, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. While that represents a welcome return, he will not slot into his accustomed spot in the rotation. After missing over a month with shoulder issues, there simply isn’t time for him to build up to a full workload.
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When Wacha moves into the pen, he may soon find company from another starting stalwart. According to ESPN.com’s Mark Saxon, St. Louis is still undecided whether to allow Jaime Garcia to take the ball when he is next scheduled. The 30-year-old lefty has struggled to a 4.65 ERA over 164 2/3 innings on the year, and has been hit hard particularly of late.
Instead, the Cards may turn to young righty Alex Reyes, who continues to impress in multiple roles. Whether functioning as a single-inning reliever, starting, or taking a long relief role, Reyes has racked up the strikeouts (34 in 28 innings) and kept runs off the board (1.29 ERA). After opening the year with a suspension for marijuana use, Reyes has still yet to hit 100 frames — a fair bit shy of his prior career-high of 116 1/3. While he also threw in extended spring training, St. Louis ought to have some flexibility in utilizing him without concern of over-use.
Though the team certainly faces some tough decisions, it seems at least two starters will end up in the pen. That could come in handy down the stretch and (the team hopes) in the postseason, giving skipper Mike Matheny the ability to piggyback starters, get multiple quality relief innings, and generally stay flexible in managing his pitchers’ workloads.
Regarding Garcia, it’s tempting to wonder whether a potential move out of the rotation could be the beginning of the end of his time with the Cardinals. His $12MM club option isn’t exactly a slam dunk given his rough year and past injury issues, though a barren market for starting pitching likely makes that a reasonable value. Even if it is picked up, St. Louis could conceivably market the talented lefty.