My Ideal St. Louis Cardinals Starting Rotation


Mar 7, 2015; Melbourne, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) throws a pitch before the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach the final days of spring training, the big controversy is which St. Louis Cardinals pitcher will crack the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

Barring injury, we already know who the first four are going to be. It’s safe to assume Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Michael Wacha have rotation spots locked up.

Who plays the fifth? That’s the hot topic. Let’s review the choices:

1. Do the Cardinals play it safe and go with Jaime Garcia, a pitcher that has shown flashes of brilliance in the past few years but can never stay healthy enough to make an impact?

2. Does Carlos Martinez finally get a crack at the fifth spot? Is he strong enough to handle the rigors of pitching six or seven innings a game? Is it finally time to give him the ball at the start of the game rather than at the end?

3. Do the Cardinals junk both of those plans and select a fifth starter like Marco Gonzales to open the season in the rotation?

Based on what I’ve seen in the past couple seasons, my answer is Jaime Garcia.

I remember the Garcia that won a combined 26 games in 2010 and 2011 and helped guide the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series title. Granted, we have not seen that Garcia in three years, as injuries have robbed him of some quality time on the mound.

Based on what I’ve seen in the past couple seasons, my answer is Jaime Garcia.

If thoracic outlet syndrome was the problem, and all indications are it was, then Garcia should be healthy and ready to start the 2015 campaign. He’s given up four earned runs in three starts, but those three walks and 13 strikeouts look quite enticing.

I’m not dismissing Martinez outright. He’s going to be a solid pitcher. So far he’s 1-0 in spring with a 4.91 ERA and six earned runs given up.

Then there is Gonzales, the real wild card. He’s won all three spring starts, his ERA is 0.71… why not give him the shot?

It all comes down to pressure situations. Garcia has been in them. Martinez and Gonzales are both in their early 20s and have time to develop. If any of the above pitchers have injuries, then you plug in Martinez or Gonzales into the hole and the season goes on.

Garcia deserves a chance to show he’s ready for a repeat of 2010-11. It’s only fair.

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