Cardinals: St. Louis trying to solve pitching depth problem
The move to option pitcher Johan Oviedo may seem standard, but it’s the St. Louis Cardinals getting creative to add depth to a depleted rotation.
With Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and now Carlos Martinez all on the injured list with significant injuries, the St. Louis Cardinals need to get creative in finding ways to eat innings without putting more stress on a bullpen that has been overworked to start the first half of the regular season.
The most logical solution, of course, is the trade market. But it’s highly unlikely the Cardinals make any sort of moves until after the All-Star break, perhaps even closer to the July 30 trade deadline, which means they will need their in-house options to step up.
Ahead of the upcoming series against the Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals optioned pitcher Johan Oviedo to Triple-A Memphis, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. By optioning Oviedo now, he is eligible to return when the Cardinals need a fourth or fifth starter on July 19 or 20 against the Cubs at Busch Stadium, and allows the team to bring up another fresh arm before the break.
It is unclear who the team is calling up, but Goold listed right-handed pitcher Kodi Whitley as a candidate to be called up in Oviedo’s place. Whitley has been going through a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield, retiring all nine batters he has faced in three outings, striking out six of them. While he would not provide a drastic upgrade, he presents something the team desperately needs: a fresh arm and someone with upside.
Before the All-Star break, and perhaps through the rest of the regular season, the Cardinals will likely be shuttling pitchers back and forth from Triple-A and the majors to keep their arms fresh. The move to option Oviedo and perhaps call up Whitley is going to be the start of a trend that lasts the rest of the season as the Cardinals work to withstand what is arguably baseball’s most complicated pitching problem.