The Cardinals are set to make some changes to their pitching staff, with rising young righty Alex Reyes taking the rotation slot of Jaime Garcia, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch was among those to tweet. Garcia is slated for a move to the bullpen.
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Also heading to the major league relief corps is former closer Trevor Rosenthal, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Twitter. He had been sidelined by elbow and shoulder issues, but will be activated in advance of tonight’s contest.
The Cardinals’ pen certainly has a different make-up than would have been anticipated at the outset of the year. Garcia is accompanied by Michael Wacha in moving into a different role, though the latter’s switch occurred primarily because his injury issues did not allow time for him to ramp up to make it back to the rotation. Both, though, have had their share of troubles this year.
Tonight’s moves have some broader implications as well. Reyes will potentially make three starts, which could drive his innings up — when one includes his extended spring training work — to a level that could be uncomfortable if the Cards make a deep postseason run. Dealing with that issue would probably be a luxury, though, as the team faces a tough test to qualify.
Certainly, it’ll be interesting to see how Reyes fares while handling critical outings from the rotation. He only just turned 22, and has enjoyed star-caliber results thus far, allowing only four earned runs with 34 strikeouts while surrendering just 16 hits in 28 frames (including two starts). But he has also handed out 16 free passes and unleashed three wild pitches, so there still seems to be some polishing left to his mound work.
Garcia may be the most interesting element to consider. He has finally been healthy enough for a full season for the first time since 2011, but carries only a 4.65 ERA over his 164 2/3 frames. That’s rough enough to raise questions about his $12MM club option for 2017, but with a barren market for starters this winter, that’s probably a reasonable-enough price tag for the veteran southpaw.
As for Rosenthal, reports of his progress have been encouraging. But he had been a major question mark before the injury issues came to light. Despite striking out 13 batters per nine innings, Rosenthal lost his hold on the closer role with a 5.13 ERA and troubling 7.3 BB/9 over 33 1/3 frames on the year. He’ll be due a raise on his $5.6MM arbitration salary, making for an expensive tender decision. It still seems likely that St. Louis will take the risk on a pitcher who has been excellent for the bulk of his major league career, but any ongoing struggles or added injury concerns might conceivably shift the analysis.