We’ll have to see how the big red 70 looks in the land of the blues. Yesterday, Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons was sent to minor league camp with the idea of stretching out and being ready in case a starter is needed.
This, of course, really isn’t a surprise. Lyons came into camp as a dark horse for the fifth starter spot, but he’d been used primarily as a reliever and his results were not good. No real way to sugarcoat a 14.63 ERA, unfortunately. Sure, it’s spring, sure it’s limited innings, but still, anytime your ERA has as many digits to the left of the decimal as it does to the right, things are not going your way. I had expected him to be sent down sooner because I felt he was going to be this backup starter, but the club seemed to be toying with the idea of him being a long man in the pen for a while before deciding to go that route.
Of course, one of the reasons that they went that route is that a lot of their rotation insurance is going to be in St. Louis. Both Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez seem assured of landing a spot riding in the red convertibles, it just still comes down to who gets the starter role and who gets the eighth inning nod.
If that’s the case, and there is absolutely no reason to believe it isn’t, I would tend to want to see Martinez in the rotation. I know, I’ve made the case before that his lack of work in the past would keep him out of my starting five. It still would, if the decision was between starting in Memphis and starting in St. Louis. That’s not the choice anymore, apparently. My larger fear has been that he’d get into the situation we now see with Trevor Rosenthal, become so effective in the bullpen that it’s impossible to get him out of it. Another year of minimal innings on Martinez’s arm might make it harder for him to transition into the starting rotation next year. While he can be electric in that setup role, I’d much rather see him pitch more innings and impact the team in that way.
Can Joe Kelly be the eighth inning stopper? It would seem to be a strong possibility. Kelly of course was drafted as a closer and has experience at the back end of games, though not much of it in the major leagues. Looking at his career splits on Baseball-Reference, he’s been effective against the first batter of an inning, only walking one in 61 plate appearances, which would serve him well in the late innings. His numbers in high leverage situations have been OK, though he has had a tendency to serve up the long ball (eight in 189 HL plate appearances, compared to 12 in 800 medium and low leverage PAs).
He’s only thrown two eighth innings (0.00 ERA, .250/.250/.375) so there’s no real telling what he’d do in the situation. However, I think his makeup and his fastball should be enough to at least give him the chance at that. I still wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Matheny decides to put Kelly in the rotation and Martinez in the pen, and it wouldn’t be a huge outrage if so, but I’d still like to see Martinez starting games for a while.
Yesterday’s game against the Twins did nothing to hurt Martinez’s rotation chances, though, and Matheny praised his mindset after the game. Martinez went 5.1 innings in 81 pitches, not a bad ratio for a guy that probably is going to rack up the pitch counts with strikeouts and such. It seems that all the pieces to the pitching staff are there, but how they all fit together may be the focus of the last week and a half.
Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk continue to impress, with Grichuk driving in the winning runs yesterday. It was pretty telling of Piscotty’s rise that he was playing left field in a lineup that consisted almost entirely of the regular starting lineup yesterday. Both of them are going to be sent down eventually, but you have to figure that if the need arises, there’s going to be no hesitation in grabbing up one of those guys, especially if Oscar Taveras isn’t quite ready.
If I was doing Heroes and Goats (which I need to get back into the habit of soon, huh?), Matt Adams likely would have gotten the nod. Two hits yesterday, including his second home run of the spring. I saw his first one, going back up the middle for a solid single on a ball down in the zone. I think we tend to expect Adams to be an all-or-nothing type, a guy that plays like Adam Dunn. We forget that Adams hit .300 at every minor league stop on his way up to the big leagues, including a .329 mark at Memphis. Adams is a hitter with power, not just a power hitter. (That said, Dunn hit .300 in many of his minor league stops as well, so maybe that’s not a great comparison.)
Cards take on the Marlins today with Lance Lynn on the mound. Remember, the Favorite Living Cardinal tournament is going strong, with yesterday’s matchups still live until noon and new matchups coming every two hours starting at 8 AM. We’ve also got the Giants featured this afternoon in Playing Pepper, so there’s plenty of reasons for you to visit often today!