Now’s the Time to Get Carlos Back in the Rotation

On Sunday, the Cardinals were lucky to make it to extra innings. Down 3-2 in the eighth, Goldschmidt singled on a swinging bunt to third and moved up to second on Manny Machado‘s throwing error. Then Tyler O’Neill singled to right, but Pop Warner initially held Goldschmidt at third but the ball was misplayed by Franmil Reyes and Goldschmidt scored the tying run. The Cardinals ultimately won 5-3 in eleven innings thanks to Matt Wieters‘ two-out, two-strike home run.

Carlos Martinez played an integral part in the win, throwing 2 2/3 shutout innings of relief and picking up the win. He gave up a hit, a walk, and struck out four. Most importantly, though, he threw a season-high 41 pitches. If the Cardinals are ever going to get Carlos back in the rotation, the next week or so might represent their last best chance.

By utilizing his 41-pitch relief outing and the All-Star break, building Martinez’s stamina back to starter-level is actually a fairly straightforward process. Flaherty, Wainwright, and Wacha would make their normal starts in Seattle. Then the Cardinals return home for a three-game set with San Francisco to wrap up the ‘first half’. Martinez and Daniel Ponce De Leone could share that start, with Martinez going three or four innings and throwing 50-60 pitches. The Cardinals then wrap up the first half with Hudson and Mikolas making the final two starts.

The final game of the first half is scheduled for July 7 and the Cardinals don’t play again until July 12. July 10 would be Carlos’ normal day to start on four days rest. He could make a rehab start or pitch a simulated game at Busch Stadium, although I’d hate to be the catcher that got called in to catch a sim game during the All-Star break. Ideally, Carlos would throw 70-80 pitches.

Flaherty, Wainwright, and Hudson would start the three games against Arizona on July 12-14, and Carlos would be able to start on normal rest on July 15 against Pittsburgh. Hopefully, by creatively using the schedule, he’d be as close to full-stamina as possible while also maximizing the number of games he’s available for (usually, building a pitcher up would require a lengthy ‘rehab assignment’).

For you visual learners, here’s the Cardinals rotation mapped out through July 15:

Date Opponent Starter Days Rest
6/30 @San Diego 41 pitch relief outing
7/1 Off 0
7/2 @Seattle Flaherty 1
7/3 @Seattle Wainwright 2
7/4 @Seattle Wacha 3
7/5 vs San Francisco Martinez/Ponce 4
7/6 vs San Francisco Hudson 0
7/7 vs San Francisco Mikolas 1
7/8 ASB 2
7/9 ASB 3
7/10 ASB Rehab/Sim Game 4
7/11 ASB 0
7/12 vs Arizona Flaherty 1
7/13 vs Arizona Wainwright 2
7/14 vs Arizona Hudson 3
7/15 vs Pittsburgh Martinez 4

Sunday demonstrated why, despite Miles Mikolas‘ impressive 2018 and the excitement around Jack Flaherty, Martinez remains the Cardinals best pitcher. His ERA, strikeout, and walk numbers in 2019 looks more like they did from 2015-2017 when he was one of the better starters in the National League. At the end of the day, the Cardinals are 41-41 and need to shake things up. Outside of waiting for Goldschmidt and Carpenter to hit like Goldschmidt and Carpenter, using his most recent appearance and the All-Star break to slingshot Martinez back into the rotation would be one of the more creative ways for the team to improve.

Thanks for reading.

Colin Garner

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