St. Louis Cardinals: Who will take Wacha’s spot in the rotation?
With the St. Louis Cardinals moving Michael Wacha into the bullpen, who could take his spot in the rotation?
According to St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, starting pitcher Michael Wacha is now out of the rotation and will be moved into the bullpen for the foreseeable future. This move is not all that surprising, considering the fact that Wacha is currently sporting a putrid 5.59 ERA paired with a 1.693 WHIP. In a recent start against the Kansas City Royals, he let up seven runs in less than five innings, which signaled to the front office that it was time for a change.
The Cardinals brought up Genesis Cabrera to pitch Wednesday against a dangerous Phillies lineup and gave up three runs over 3.2 innings. Hopefully bringing up a new starter can be a help to a rotation that clearly needs it, and lights a fire in the other guys as well. Whether Cabrera stays in the rotation is anyone’s guess but we will see. Here are some other options if Cabrera doesn’t stick.
Another arm St. Louis could go with could be Austin Gomber. Gomber was competing for a spot in the bullpen during Spring Training but after a very rough spring, he ended up being demoted to Memphis to start the season. To respond to that move though, Gomber has been lights out in the Memphis Redbird rotation. He currently has a 2.98 ERA and a 4-0 win-loss record. He has also struck out 52 batters on the season, which is currently the 4th highest in the Pacific Coast League.
The thing that makes Gomber stand out from the rest of these options though is that he is a left-handed pitcher, and the Cardinals major league rotation currently lacks a left-handed arm to help switch things up against opposing teams.
Last season, Gomber was mediocre in the rotation when the Cardinals were running low on starters, after getting off to a hot start in the rotation, he crashed and burned towards the end of the season, and totaled a 4.26 ERA and a high 1.509 WHIP during his tenure in the rotation.
Another option could be Jake Woodford. Woodford has been by far the best pitcher in the Memphis Redbird rotation this year, sporting a 2.44 ERA so far, which is currently the third-best ERA in a very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Woodford has done a solid job of putting hitters away and has very solid numbers across the board, but he still has an issue with walking batters. In all of his starts, he has not walked less than two batters in any of them. Which makes up for a 1.66 BB/K rate. With his solid velocity and nasty stuff, it’s all for nothing if he can’t control his pitches.
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If the Cardinals do decide to call up the former first rounder, they would have to place him on the 40-man roster, and it could be a possibility since there is a spot currently open on the roster, but that would only be temporary with Brett Cecil currently on the 60-Day Injured List.
Woodford will be starting on Friday night in Memphis against Nashville, which means that he could start in five days on Wednesday night if he is the man called, which could be something to notice when deciding the starter.
With former top prospect Alex Reyes still down in High-A Palm Beach recovering from a hand injury, he will not be a candidate to replace Michael Wacha in the rotation, for now at least. Shildt did announce though that Reyes will make one more start in Palm Beach before he gets moved back up to Triple-A, so he could be an option later if the rotation is still a mess.
The Cardinals are in shambles as a whole and there isn’t an end in sight with how the team has been performing. Cabrera was a bold try and it sort of worked out, but moving forward it’s a difficult choice for Mike Shildt on what to do and how to approach the rotation.