Genesis Cabrera had his debut at the MLB level and while the St. Louis Cardinals happily gave him a chance, he wasn’t ready.
Sometimes, especially rookies of the St. Louis Cardinals, players make a big jump up to the Majors and catch lightning in a bottle and perform like superheroes for some time. Jeremy Hazelbaker, Pete Kozma, Bo Hart, Hector Luna and even Paul DeJong all captured lightning and rode it to a hot streak that carried the team for some time.
The Cardinals were hoping that this same effect would take place with young rookie Genesis Cabrera, even though his overall minor league numbers weren’t stellar this year. A 6.35 ERA at Memphis, even after two good starts in a row prior to his call-up, was already a sign that he needed some more work.
The biggest reason I believe he was called up was that his day in the rotation coincided with the day that Michael Wacha was scheduled to pitch, and despite knowing for seven days that the Cardinals would need to replace Wacha, they lazily just let Cabrera come up.
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His first start wasn’t horrible but wasn’t good either. The five runs over 3.2 innings he gave up against the Phillies look worse than it was as two of those runs were a result of a bad error adding more stress on the rookie, but it’s still a low-quality start.
Last night, Cabrera made it into the fifth inning allowing another three earned runs but anyone who watched the game could tell you he got lucky a few times and tip-toed out of danger. Worse than this was as Jen Langosch pointed out, of his 95 pitches, zero of them resulted in a swing and a miss. For a guy who is supposed to be a power-armed lefty who clearly has great stuff, that is not good.
In his 8.1 innings, Cabrera walked four guys and only struck out five. His 13 hits allowed and two homers are all just a sign he needed more seasoning. Though the Cardinals like to give a lot of guys chances to show their skill at the Majors, this try was a proverbial swing and a miss.
Now Cabrera gets to go back down to the Minors and keep working on his stuff. Whether or not this two-start stint at the MLB was beneficial to Cabrera is up in the air, but the bigger wonder is whether these two games that the Cardinals gave to an underqualified rookie will come back to bite them in the long run.
Cabrera disappears back to Memphis and while I love Ryan Helsley rejoining the Cardinals, the next time Cabrera’s spot in the rotation comes up, the Cardinals don’t yet know who will start.
One positive out of game one against the Reds was that Michael Wacha was dominant out of the bullpen. Giving up just two hits over 2.1 innings, Wacha hit 98 on the gun and may have earned back his rotation spot. In my opinion, whatever caused the Cardinals to move Wacha out of the rotation two weeks ago likely isn’t fixed, but if the team doesn’t want to call up Daniel Ponce de Leon, Austin Gomber or Jake Woodford, then the only guy left for the job is Wacha.
Almost unsurprisingly, the Genesis Cabrera experiment was a failure and it’s not Cabrera’s fault. He has stuff, he just needs more tuning before he can produce at the MLB. Any anger should be directed solely at the front office for deciding Cabrera was the best fit for the spot start.