St. Louis Cardinals: Daniel Poncedeleon promoted, demoted, we’ll see you in September

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUG 1: Daniel Poncedeleon #62 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUG 1: Daniel Poncedeleon #62 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Cardinals demoted Luke Weaver from the starting rotation to the bullpen in favor of Daniel Poncedeleon.  Then three days later they demoted Poncedeleon to the minors.

Daniel Poncedeleon found himself in a matter of three days, promoted to the starting rotation and then demoted to AAA Memphis.  Is this anyway to treat a pitcher who has a 2.08 ERA in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals?

Interim manager Mike Schlldt announced on Sunday that Daniel Poncedeleon would replace Luke Weaver in the starting rotation.  According to Jenifer Langosch, Schlidt will use Weaver in the bullpen as a ‘shorter long man’ or a ‘middle innings’ guy.

Poncedeleon started the St. Louis Cardinals game on Tuesday night vs the Dodgers in place of Weaver.  Then after pitching four innings and giving up only one run, he was optioned back to the Memphis Redbirds.  This roster move was to make room for the return of Yairo Munoz from the DL.

Miles Mikolas is now the only uninterrupted starter left in the rotation from Opening Day.  The St. Louis Cardinals have seen opening day rotation starters Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright all spend significant time on the DL.

With Poncedeleon’s demotion, the Cardinals now have a starting rotation of Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, and John Gant.  The fifth starter will be determined in the upcoming Pirates’ series next week.

Let’s look at these recent moves.

Moving Weaver to the BP was the right move

The calls for moving Luke Weaver to the bullpen had been heard for some time by the Cardinals.  Weaver had a 7-11 record with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 25 games. In his last outing vs the Washington Nationals on August 16th, Weaver only lasted 3.2 innings, throwing 71 pitches.

Although three errors contributed to Weaver’s short outing, his inability to go consistently beyond five innings since April, was the primary reason for the demotion.  After a strong first three starts in April, Weaver was unable to establish consistency going deep into games.  The right hander has only been able to only been able to complete six innings in just one-third of his appearances.

Weaver hopes to improve his fast ball command he saw in April.  Regaining that command, will assist him in avoiding extended counts that have contributed to his short outings.  Improved fast ball command will make his secondary pitches more effective according to Cardinal interim manager Mike Schildt.

Poncedeleon was great in his July start

In his first and only major league start prior to Tuesday’s was outstanding.  Against the Reds on July 23rd, he held the Cards’ NL Central rivals hitless in seven innings with a 116 pitch performance.  During this work horse performance, he scattered three walks and three strikeouts, while managing to keep his four seamer up in the zone.

Nevertheless, the St. Louis Cardinals immediately moved the 26-year-old right hander back to the bullpen, where he has performed admirably in five appearances.  Prior to Tuesday’s game his ERA was 2.04 in 17.2 innings.

In the minor leagues, Poncedeleon was a quality starter with a five-year 34-16 record and a 2.65 ERA.  With this minor league experience and his one outstanding outing in July, it would seem to indicate he deserves a chance to be in the rotation.

Poncedeleon wasn’t the answer for the rotation

More from Redbird Rants

On the other hand, Poncedeleon’s performance on Tuesday night may be more indicative of his abilities as a starter.  He needed 90 pitches to complete four innings, before Schildt turned it over to his bullpen.  Credit him for giving up only one run and striking out eight in this outing, however his pitch count was concerning.

Also consider, the Dodgers are a stronger lineup than the Reds with the likes of Manny Machado and Justin Turner.  Moving forward, the Cardinals will be facing contenders such as the Cubs, Brewers, Rockies, and the Braves.  All with stronger lineups than the Reds.

Poncedeleon, as a starter, would have been facing hitters for a third or even fourth time in a game.  His 92-93 mph fastball could be exposed the longer he stays in a game.  If he can’t keep the late movement on his pitches, like he did vs Reds, his outings would have likely to look like Tuesday’s or worse.

My conclusion

To conclude, I believe the St. Louis Cardinals need to find a way to upgrade their rotation if they are going to be a contender for the NL Pennant.  No disrespect to the current starters are meant in this piece.  However, in a short playoff series, I believe the Cardinals are going to need more than Gomber, Gant, or Poncedeleon.  Mikolas and Flaherty might work, but they will need help.

Daniel Poncedeleon will return no later than September 1st with roster expansions.  Likely a fifth starter will be then chosen between Wacha, Tyson Ross, and Poncedeleon.

Nevertheless, I believe Daniel Poncedeleon deserved better than being optioned to Memphis. He should have stayed…in the bullpen.

Next. Possible September call-ups. dark

That’s my opinion, let us know yours.  Thanks for reading and GO CARDS.