With news coming out this past weekend that Jaime Garcia had to return to St. Louis to have his shoulder examined due to familiar discomfort, it feels like the rotation is all but set even though St. Louis Cardinals management has not yet made any type of formal announcement.
Heading in to the spring, I think most would agree that Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha were locked in to three of the five available spots. Further, most would have been bullish that Jaime Garcia would take the 4th spot because of two reasons: salary and his ability to provide LH balance.
While it’s been announced that Martinez will start the first official game of spring, and the Cardinals want to give him a long look in the starter’s role, I think it’s highly unlikely that he steals the final spot away from either of the seasoned pitchers he is up against because of one simple reason. He’s needed elsewhere.
Reading the tea leaves of the Jason Motte situation tells me this: Motte’s not ready, and his attitude displayed through various radio interviews doesn’t make it seem like he is going to be pushing aggressively to make an early return to the back end of the bullpen. Honestly, I’m ok with this stance. It seems when players try to exceed expectations for a return from injury they oftentimes end up right back on the injury list.
So, there you have it. Martinez can’t steal the 5th starter role yet because he is needed in the 8th inning set-up role to bridge the gap to closer Trevor Rosenthal. Once Jason Motte is fully ready to assume that duty perhaps the entire dynamic changes, but until then it just seems like the best thing for the team at this time is keeping Martinez ready to lock down the 8th inning.
Unless something drastically changes throughout spring training, it appears to me as though Lynn and Kelly will take the final two rotation spots.