Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jason Motte has torn UCL. Could Michael Wacha be an option as closer?

According to Jennifer Langosch, an MRI on Jason Motte's arm today revealed a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.  He will be shut down until May 1st and then checked again for any improvement.  If none, he will likely undergo Tommy John surgery.

This is a big blow for a Cardinals bullpen that has struggled so far this year. 

With their closer likely out for the year and Trevor Rosenthal (2 blown saves) and Mitchell Boggs (1 blown save, 14.54 ERA) struggling, the Cardinals could look to other options to fill the closer role.

Here are some possibilities:

Edward Mujica

Mujica has been very effective since the Cards acquired him from the Marlins last summer, posting a 1.21 ERA in 29.2 IP.  He main asset is his control, allowing only 1.2 BB/9 with the Cards and 1.5 BB/9 for his career. However, he only has 4 saves in his career.

Fernando Salas

Salas closed for the Cardinals in 2011, compiling 24 saves and a sparkling 2.28 ERA, but struggled last year (4.30 ERA) and hasn't fared much better in the early going this year 8.10 ERA.

Eduardo Sanchez

 Sanchez is another former closer for the Cards, having saved 5 games in 2011.  However, he struggled with his command last year (34 walks in 42.2 IP) and, although he has shown better form this year, the Cardinals will likely want him to prove himself in a lesser role before handing the closer reigns over to him.

Carlos Martinez

Martinez has the 2 pitch arsenal to be a good closer in the majors, with a blazing fastball that sits in the high 90's and a biting curveball.  However, visa issues delayed his start to the season and he is currently in extended spring training.

Michael Wacha

Wacha surprised many with a strong spring this year and showed last year that he is comfortable pitching out of the pen, posting a 0.86 ERA in 21 IP (mostly in relief).  However, the Cardinals would probably prefer to keep him as a starter to help him develop his pitches. 

Overall, the Cardinals will probably give Boggs and/or Rosenthal a long leash, but beyond Boggs and Rosenthal, the best bet for saves would probably be Mujica.  Wacha could be a possibility, but the Cards would have to be desperate to turn to him (which just might happen, the way things are going).

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