Tonight, a man named Michael Wacha will try to out-pitch one of the best pitchers in baseball today (Clayton Kershaw), hold back the Dodgers’ surging offense, and send the St. Louis Cardinals to their second World Series in the last three years.
As I think about how much I trust Wacha in that situation (a stunning amount, considering that he’s only 22), my thoughts drift to the incredible young pitching talent that the Cardinals’ organization possesses. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, John Gast, Tyler Lyons, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist, and Sam Freeman have an average age of roughly 25. Take out “Old Man” Wainwright and the “veteran” Garcia, and that number dips below 24. Nearly all of these young studs could easily be vying for a spot in a major league rotation this coming spring. Except for one simple problem.
They’re all on the same forty man roster.
No one contests the fact that the Cardinals have the most gifted young pitching talent around. Thanks to phenomenal scouting, drafting, coaching, and developing, St. Louis has been blessed by the baseball gods with a nearly unimaginable bounty of skill. It’s a great situation to be in, but also leads to a lot of questions.
The most pressing for next season is about the rotation: which five come out as the starters? Granted, it will probably change as the season goes on and hardships accrue, but who does Matheny pick as his five best? It might seem obvious at first: Wainwright’s the ace, Garcia starts (if he’s healthy), Lynn probably gets a spot by default, Kelly’s earned one, and Miller was dominant in the regular season. All good, right?
Oh wait. what about the soon-to-be star of tonight’s game, Michael Wacha? So you take Lynn or Garcia out based on spring training performance, and Wacha’s in.
But wasn’t Rosenthal once billed as a starter? Martinez is supposed to have the best breaking ball in the organization (and it looks damn good to me)? How do you keep him out? Do you let Siegrist sit in the bullpen another year, too? It’s a lot questions, and some are reasonable. Given the incredible skill available to the Cardinals, trimming it down is one of the greatest challenges that Matheny will face in his early years.
The goal of my little series is to look at each of these pitchers, their strengths, their weaknesses, and where I see them in five years. I predict that some won’t be with us for much longer, and others are stars that we’ll keep our hands on as long as we can. Either way, I hope that my thoughts here will show off the incredible talent available to the Cardinals, provide some possible answers to many of the pressing questions, and entertain all of you!
So over the course of the next few days, as the Cardinals pursue their twelfth World Series title, enjoy the posts and revel in the fact that you will get to watch phenomenal pitching for many years to come.