Sunday, January 6, 2013

Projecting the Cardinals future starting rotations

If there is one thing the Cardinals do not lack heading into the 2013 season, its starting pitching depth.  Despite the loss of Kyle Lohse, who led the team in ERA (2.86), starts (33) and innings (211), while finishing second in wins, the Cards return 5 starters who made at least 16 starts in 2012.

In addition, former ace Chris Carpenter, who made a surprising return from thoracic outlet syndrome late last season, should be ready from the get go this season.  And, as if that wasn't enough, the Cardinals have no less than 4 quality pitching prospects waiting in the wings.

So, how will the Cards handle this abundance of riches?  Well, I will attempt to get into the minds of the Cardinals' brass to sort through that very issue for 2013 and beyond.


Barring any surprising moves before opening day, the Cardinals rotation is pretty much set for 2013.

Adam Wainwright will be the ace of the staff, followed by Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook.  The only question is who will fill the 5th spot.  Lance Lynn, who led the Cards with 18 wins last year, is the favorite to garner the last spot in the rotation, but rookies Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal, as well as Joe Kelly, who posted a 3.53 ERA in 107 IP last year, will also vie for the last spot.

My best guess is that Lynn will retain the 5th spot, with Miller and Rosenthal returning to AAA for more seasoning and Kelly manning the long relief spot in the pen.

Thus, your 2013 rotation will look like this:
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Chris Carpenter
  3. Jaime Garcia
  4. Jake Westbrook
  5. Lance Lynn

After the 2013 season, the Cardinals currently have 3 pitchers who can become free agents: Wainwright, Carpenter and Westbrook.  Early indications are that its likely that the Cardinals will work out an extension for Wainwright, but its also likely that they'll let Carpenter and Westbrook walk.

Thus, the Cards will have two openings in their rotation for 2014.  There will be a heated battle for those two spots between prospects Miller, Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Kelly, with Miller and Rosenthal the projected winners.  Martinez and Wacha will be relegated to AAA and Kelly will stay in the pen.

Assuming that Wainwright's extension is at least 3 years, all of the above pitchers will be under team control through at least 2016, with the Cards holding options on the lone exception, Jaime Garcia, for 2016 and 2017. 

So, for 2014-2016, the rotation should shape up like this:
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Jaime Garcia
  3. Lance Lynn
  4. Shelby Miller
  5. Trevor Rosenthal
Of course, with the abundance of starting pitching, the Cardinals could decide to trade some of their excess to shore up other areas, such as shortstop.  The Cardinals have as many as 8 potential starters, which does not include lower level prospects Tyrell Jenkins or Jordan Swagerty (recovering from Tommy John surgery), so trading one or two of them would seem like a likely scenario.

Another possibility is that one of the above pitchers is converted to the pen and becomes the closer in waiting for when Jason Motte becomes a free agent after the 2014 season (although Mitch Boggs may have something to say about that).

In any case, having quality pitching options at the major and minor league level opens up a world of possibilities for the Cardinals and should ensure a solid pitching staff for years to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment