Image Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Westbrook is potentially starting for the last time for the Cardinals tomorrow. He has been absolutely awful the last 4 starts, giving up 4, 5, 6 and 9 earned runs in those outings sending his ERA from 2.95 to 4.35. With under 40 games to go and the three NL Central teams separated by 2.5 games, the Cardinals cannot afford to give away any starts down the stretch.
If Jake throws another clunker tomorrow, it is time for the Cardinals to move on and let one or more of the rookies take his turn in the rotation. I believe the team has a better chance that one of the young guns will perform better in his spot in the rotation than he would. Worst case scenario, it gives more innings to these younger pitchers at the MLB level for them to be ready for playoff baseball in October.
Let’s be honest if the Cardinals are in a playoff series, not only is he not getting the ball to start any of the games, I don’t even see him making the playoff roster. Joe Kelly has won 6 of his last 7 starts and has an era at 3 and locked up the #4 starter spot. If Joe continues to pitch this way down the stretch run, he might even move up further.
There is a mutual option on Westbrook’s contract for 2014 at 9.5 million. With Jaime Garcia coming back, the Cardinals already will have 5 solid starters (Wainwright. Miller, Lynn and Kelly) before we even talk about Michael Wacha, Tyler Lyons and Carlos Martinez all battling for a starting slot next year. In other words, there is no way Westbrook is on the club next year.
From a financial stand point, the Cardinals will need to use the money they are going to save on Westbrook and Rafael Furcal in 2014 to upgrade at shortstop. This is important now that circumstances have changed with Carlos Beltran and the Oscar Taveras situation. I was anticipating the Cardinals being able to use the money they were going to save on Beltran to sign a better shortstop. Unfortunately with the injury filled season that Taveras has had this year, ending in surgery on his ankle, it is pretty obvious the Cardinals need to work out an extension with Beltran for another year or two.
Westbrook has his own personal playoff game tomorrow. Pitch well or start thinking about moving on to your next team.