Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez is going back on the disabled list, this time due to a right oblique strain. The Cardinals have also recalled John Brebbia, reinstated Miles Mikolas from the paternity list, optioned Matt Bowman, and added Luke Weaver to the roster as the 26th man for today’s doubleheader against the Cubs.
It’s the latest unfortunate twist in what’s rapidly turning into a disappointing season for Martinez, the young ace the Cardinals planned to lean on heavily in hopes of a playoff berth this year. He certainly began the season strong, pitching to a 1.62 ERA across his first 50 innings before straining his right lat muscle and subsequently spending a month on the DL.
Since his return on June 5th, Martinez has looked like an entirely different (read: ineffective) pitcher. He’s put up a bloated 5.32 ERA while barely averaging 5 innings across nine starts. His walk rate has soared to a remarkable 5.12 BB/9, and he hasn’t even managed to strike out a batter an inning- a department Martinez has excelled in when he’s been in top form.
Oblique injuries are no small matter, to be sure. While we don’t yet know the severity of the injury, more serious strains have kept pitchers out for well over a month. It’s not unfair to think that the Cardinals could potentially be out of the race for the NL Central crown by the time he’s healthy; that’s a factor that could ultimately delay or expedite Martinez’ timetable. For now, though we’ll await further news on the grade of his strain rather than speculate about how much time the right-hander might miss.
For the time being, it’s likely that Luke Weaver will take his spot in the rotation, which also includes Jack Flaherty, John Gant and Miles Mikolas. Lefty Austin Gomber could be a candidate to move to the rotation if and when St. Louis needs a fifth starter, though Michael Wacha could be on track to return from his own oblique injury fairly soon.