In an interesting move, the St. Louis Cardinals will move Dakota Hudson to the bullpen for the next turn of the rotation, opting for a four man rotation and allowing him to make his next start against the Dodgers.
The premise behind this move is simple for the St. Louis Cardinals: limit innings for Dakota Hudson. By moving him to the bullpen instead of starting him, you can keep his arm warm and his routine in rhythm.
I like the move right now, and I don’t think it was prompted by his somewhat rough outing against the Brewers, but there are some issues with suddenly changing to a four man rotation. In particular, having a four man rotation changes the way the other four starters prepare for their appearances because of the change in rest days.
One less starter means one less day, which impacts the entirety of the routine that a starter goes through in between starts. Making these rotational changes early in the season when pitchers haven’t quite gotten their rhythms established is ok, as well as doing it on occasion.
However, I would much rather see a spot start than a four man rotation later in the season, not only because it decreases the impact on the other starters, but the St. Louis Cardinals also have the tools to facilitate a spot start perhaps better than any team in the league.
Right now, the Cardinals organization has both a right handed pitcher and a left handed pitcher that have proven they can start at the major league level with effectiveness. Austin Gomber‘s 4.26 ERA was a bit high as a starter, but he showed good enough stuff to make me comfortable giving him several major league starts and even the fifth spot in the rotation if that’s how things pan out.
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Daniel Ponce De Leon has a 2.79 ERA as a starter, which obviously invokes confidence in spite of the small sample size. Those are two major league worthy players who are just waiting in the minor leagues for opportunities like this.
The obvious reason that the Cardinals don’t want to do this right now is because they don’t want to have to use another option in response. In that case, John Gant is another guy who could make a spot start who is actually on the major league roster.
I don’t disagree with the principle behind keeping Dakota Hudson out of a start to preserve his arm and slowly adjust him for the long grind of a season as a MLB starter, nor do I disagree with utilizing the four man rotation at this point in time. However, it is not the solution that I want to see for the long term, and I would prefer to see the spot starter sooner rather than later.
This quick four man rotation is another in a line of progressive moves made by this new mind St. Louis Cardinals, and it’s an encouraging sign to see the team making meaningful moves. However, traditional moves are traditional in many cases because they work, and the spot starter is a more traditional move that I hope the St. Louis Cardinals will utilize this season.