Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez is wearing a sling on his right arm in camp this morning, and manager Mike Shildt revealed to reporters that the right-hander received a platelet-rich plasma injection yesterday and is still two weeks from throwing (Twitter links via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Goold reported overnight that Martinez was headed for a second opinion on his right shoulder and now adds that if Martinez is ready for Opening Day — which is not a certainty — he’ll be in a relief role.
Shoulder troubles in 2018 also sent Martinez to a bullpen role late in the year, and he’ll apparently reprise that role for at least some of the 2019 season. Subtracting him from the early rotation mix would give the Cards a group of Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and one of Alex Reyes, John Gant, Dakota Hudson, Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon — barring an addition from outside the organization, of course. Left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez are the top two unsigned starters on the market, while other depth options include Clay Buchholz and old friend Edwin Jackson.
Goold noted within his column that Reyes’ early work in spring is thrusting him into the conversation for an Opening Day rotation spot. But, it should be noted that the right-hander only threw a combined 27 innings between the Majors and Minors in 2017-18 combined as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery and then underwent shoulder to repair a torn tendon in his lat last June. Reyes has never reached 120 innings in a professional season, and the Cards will surely want to monitor his workload in 2019. In other words, if he does open the year as a starter, it seems unlikely that he’d be expected to hold that role all season. Even if that is the organization’s hope, his injury history suggests that he can’t be penciled in for that type of workload.
Moving Martinez to the bullpen may not be ideal, but when he’s eventually healthy, he should make for a high-quality pairing with offseason signee Andrew Miller and flamethrowing sophomore Jordan Hicks. That trio would be joined by some combination of Luke Gregerson, Brett Cecil, Dominic Leone, Chasen Shreve and perhaps some of the aforementioned rotation candidates who don’t ultimately claim a starting role. For now, the more immediate focus is on the strength and overall health of Martinez’s shoulder, as there’s an increasing chance that the Cardinals’ 2018 Opening Day starter will now open the 2019 season on the injured list rather than anywhere on the active roster.