Mike Matheny is certainly imprinting his style on the Cardinals, and no games have been played yet. Matheny has said that Lance Lynn, Mitchell Boggs and Kyle McClellan, all former starters, will not be stretched out at all during spring training and will be treated like relievers. His reasoning is that because all of those guys are young pitchers that he doesn’t want to confuse them as to their role. This could potentially really bite Matheny.
In Kyle McClellan’s case I agree. I don’t believe he’s a starting pitcher and is much more productive as a reliever as I have documented in previous posts. I also don’t think the Cardinals think he’s a starter since they moved him back to the bullpen during the season last year. Mitchell Boggs only pitched more than two innings once in 2011 and that was opening day. He hasn’t started a game since 2009, which is a credit to the Cardinals depth and health of the staff. Boggs certainly has the ability to start and could compete for a rotation spot for a few teams around the league.
The one that really makes no sense is Lance Lynn. Lynn is one of the top pitching prospects in the organization. He was 7-3 in AAA when the Cardinals called him last season. The transition into a reliever during the season didn’t hurt him. He struck out a little over a batter per inning and his ERA was under 2.50. I think the best thing for Lynn and the Cardinals is for him to get stretched out. Lynn has been surpassed by Shelby Miller as the best starting pitching prospect, however you can never have too much starting pitching. There is some age on this rotation and guys with some injury history. Adam Wainwright will just be coming back from Tommy John surgery. You need as many guys ready just in case.
More than likely, you won’t go through the season using five starting pitchers. Why limit your options in case you need them later on? Its better to be prepared and move people into the bullpen in case than be caught shorthanded and use someone you don’t necessarily want to use. The games haven’t started yet, but Matheny may not be off to the best start as manager.