Mar 11, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (35) warms up between innings against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. The game was postponed due to rain after 4 innings. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Rants Daily: Cardinals split in two today

Yesterday’s game was washed out by rain with the St. Louis Cardinals trailing the Washington Nationals 1-0. Unlike Saturday’s ridiculously long and unwarranted rain delay, this one was called in due time. Jake Westbrook was able to get his work in and was effective. Today the team is set for split-squad games against the Nationals and the Atlanta Braves.

Mar 11, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (35) warms up between innings against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium. The game was postponed due to rain after 4 innings. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
WESTBROOK GETS HIS WORK IN

Despite the game being called on account of rain, Westbrook was able to get his work in yesterday and really that is what Spring Training is all about. He threw 32 of his 42 pitches for strikes. In his three innings of work, he induced 6 groundouts and struck out two batters. He gave up a run on three seeing-eye singles. This is Westbrook’s game. He is an extreme groundball pitcher, which makes his defensive alignment behind him important. He seems to be on top of his game at the moment.

SPLIT-SQUADS TODAY

The Cardinals will be split in two today. Jaime Garcia will be on the mound at Roger Dean Stadium against the Braves and Shelby Miller will take the hill against the Nationals in Viera, Fl. Garcia is working on three days rest as the team shifted schedules around to accommodate Chris Carpenter‘s skipped start due to a bulging disk in his neck. Miller is on his regular turn.

The lineup for today’s game against the Braves is below courtesy of Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

  1. Skip Schumaker, 2B
  2. Jon Jay, CF
  3. Carlos Beltran, DH
  4. Steven Hill, 1B
  5. Daniel Descalso, 3B
  6. Shane Robinson, LF
  7. Bryan Anderson, C
  8. Erik Komatsu, RF
  9. Ryan Jackson, SS

 

Beltran is back in the lineup after several days off due to a sore shoulder and a case of the flu. Bench coach Mike Aldrete will handle the managerial duties for this game as Mike Matheny will travel with the other group to Viera. The lineup for the game against the Nats is not available at this time.

LYNN TO BE STRETCHED OUT

Earlier in Spring Training, Matheny discussed at length his decision to not stretch out certain pitchers because he wanted them to be focused on roles as relievers. He did not want them to feel like yo-yo’s. Well, get wind up the Duncan because Lance Lynn is now going to get stretched out in case Carpenter is unavailable to start the season.

This sends me many signals. One, the Cardinals are not planning on keeping Miller up with the big club. They see him pitching the season in Memphis (the Cardinals AAA affiliate) and that’s all there is to it. Two, they have been unimpressed by Brandon Dickson. Dickson has a 15.00 ERA in two outings this spring. It was suggested that Dickson could see some spot starts throughout the season when needed. That may still be the case, but not right now. Three, the Cardinals view Lynn as a starter, but had no room for him in that role and felt he was too valuable to leave in Memphis. Lastly, Carpenter is scaring them despite the positive prognosis and the four weeks remaining in camp.

Lynn started in 72 of his 77 appearances in the minors, so this is his natural spot. However, he was very effective as a reliever last season, so the Cardinals were making the wise decision to have his arm on the major league roster. It will be interesting to see what they do with Lynn once he is stretched out and Carpenter comes back. It is possible he becomes the long reliever and spot starter for the entire season. While it seemed possible Lynn was going to make the roster, he seems assured of it now.

CRAIG UNLIKELY FOR OPENING DAY

It looks like Allen Craig will start the season on the disabled list. According to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, he in so many words admitted he will not be ready on April 4th.

“[I'm] just working things in slowly, but it’s progressing,” he said. “There are still a few things that are challenging for me, but for the most part I feel good. There are just little movements I have to work on with the strength. But it’s nothing alarming.”

 

Craig’s timetable according to the team has been the beginning of May from the moment the surgery was completed. The good news is he is making progress and there have been no setbacks. The Cardinals are in no need to rush him back as they are well situated with backup plans until Craig can come back 100%.

HOLLIDAY IN THREE-HOLE FOR GOOD?

Langosch also noted that Matheny spoke of inserting Matt Holliday in the lineup in the three spot again. The spot is typically used for the best hitter in the lineup, though it is not always the case. Matheny feels that Holliday is suited for the role and could handle it.

I do not disagree that Holliday is the team’s best hitter. What I do not like about the slot for Holliday is this may lead to Beltran hitting second in an effort to split the switch-hitter with Lance Berkman who also hits from both sides.

Beltran hitting second is a huge mistake in my opinion. He is a run-producing bat and is no longer the 20/20 guy from his earlier playing days. Well see if Matheny deploys Holliday in the third spot in the lineup daily or if he’ll switch it around depending on the match-up. Personally I think the matchup decision should be made to determine whether Beltran or Berkman hit 3rd or 5th. Holliday has proved he can hit in the cleanup spot consistently during his career and that’s where I think he should stay.

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Tags: Allen Craig Brandon Dickson Bryan Anderson Carlos Beltran Chris Carpenter Daniel Descalso Erik Komatsu Jaime Garcia Jake Westbrook Jon Jay Lance Berkman Lance Lynn Matt Holliday Mike Matheny Ryan Jackson Shane Robinson Shelby Miller Skip Schumaker

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