Yes, even contenders are concerned about service time when it comes to their top prospects. Its why players like Stephen Strasburg are kept in the minors until mid-June so that they do not qualify for Super Two status.
The Cardinals appear to be playing that game as well with Michael Wacha.
With an injury to Jaime Garcia, the Cards are calling upon little-known and not very highly regarded Tyler Lyons to make the start Wednesday in Garcia's place.
The thinking is that this will be a one-time deal, with Jake Westbrook expected to be ready to return by the end of May.
However, as Bernie Miklasz points out, its a curious decision on the Cardinals part. Lyons has a 4.47 ERA and the Cards will need to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for him, thereby exposing another player to waivers.
If you're going to go to all that trouble to get a player on your 40-man roster, why not do so for your best pitching prospect.
The Cardinals could have just gone with a start-by-committee approach, as I suggested yesterday. But, that does impact the bullpen and the Cards have had enough problems with that, thank you very much.
So, with a pitcher needed for a spot start, the Cardinals go with Lyons instead of the more obvious choice, not, as Bernie suggests, based on merit, but solely based on delaying the service clock of Wacha.
The Cardinals will likely have to turn to Wacha at some point this year. Westbrook may take longer to heal that originally thought or one of the other starters may suffer an injury. But, apparently, for Wacha, that time is not now.