What might have been the St. Louis Cardinals worst nightmare didn't quite happen on Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Chris Carpenter's rib cage strain still leads Cards fans to groan and roll their eyes. Again? The oft-injured ace looks like he'll be making another trip to the disabled list.
Injuries to starting pitchers were a big part of why the Cardinals struggled in 2008 at times, and again they've started, with barely a week of 2009 in the books. So where will the Redbirds go for a fifth starter, and what exactly do those starters offer? Let's take a look.
Brad Thompson: Thompson has made 24 big league starts, including six last year for the Cardinals. He might be the most well-known option for St. Louis, but also the most limited. He's got a 7.20 ERA this season, and his ERA has actually gotten higher in every consecutive year since his rookie year in 2005.
Thompson could probably step up and throw five or six innings, but what's the chance of those innings being shutout innings even if he's at his best? The ceiling seems awfully low.
Kyle McClellan: McClellan has a good three or four pitch repertoire, but has never started in the major leagues after being a rookie reliever in 2008.
After a rough spring this season he's been almost flawless in the regular season before his appearance against the Diamondbacks. He also was stretched during the spring in case he had to be called upon.
To be honest, nobody except maybe Dave Duncan knows what McClellan is capable of as a starter. He might implode due to lack of inexperience, he might chuck up some scoreless innings with his impressive array of pitches.
With his performance tonight against the Diamondbacks, it's very possible that he gets a start this weekend against the Cubs.
P.J. Walters: Walters was perhaps the best starter in spring training that didn't make the St. Louis club, and he's been just as good since he was sent down. He went seven scoreless innings giving up only two hits in his first start, and 24-years-old, might be the most ready of any starter in Memphis.
Mitchell Boggs: It's very possible that Boggs gets the spot start against Chicago and any other start that St. Louis needs him to make while the fifth rotation spot is open. Boggs made six starts last year for the Cardinals for an ERA of 7.41, but got better as the season went on.
He is the most seasoned pitched in Memphis in that he has been exposed to the big leagues and has probably developed nearly as far as he's going to as a starting pitcher. He's the safe option should the Cardinals look to Memphis for a fifth starter.