USA TODAY Sports
Adam Wainwright throws a pitch against the Brewers on July 12.
It was the highlight of the season’s first half. It held on in times of need when the offense was nowhere to be found. And still ranking at or near the top of the majors in ERA (fifth), innings pitched (ninth), WHIP (ninth) and fewest home runs allowed (first), the rotation has kept the Cardinals afloat in 2014.
Injuries have sidelined 40 percent of the rotation. Wacha suffered what Mozeliak called a “stress reaction” in his scapula, in his right shoulder, according to Joe Trezza of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Due to the rare nature of the injury, there isn’t a set timetable for Wacha’s return.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia reaggravated his surgically repaired left shoulder and underwent season-ending surgery that required the removal of a rib last week.
What’s left of the rotation is staff ace Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Joe Kelly, who recently returned from a torn hamstring.
Wainwright has been his normal self. The righty is tied for the most wins in all of baseball and leads all starting pitchers with a 1.83 ERA with a minimum 120 innings pitched. He’s certainly in the running for the National League Cy Young Award.
Lynn (10-6, 3.14 ERA) has been consistent at best. He’s saved the Cardinals bullpen from being overworked at times. But Lynn has had his shortfalls. Over his last eight starts, Lynn has failed to pitch four innings twice.
Miller has been the biggest disappointment. He’s had a nightmarish season, and his outings continue to trend downward with no signs of improvement. Since tossing a complete game at Toronto on June 7, Miller has made six starts and failed to last six innings four times.
Walks have been the biggest problem for Miller. His BB/9 innings rate is alarmingly high (4.46) compared to last season (2.96), according to Fangraphs. Moreover, Miller has become an increasingly predictable pitcher. Hitters are sitting on his fastball, which makes him vulnerable. Miller’s command of his curveball and changeup is all over the place, which allows hitters to look for the heater.
Martinez was recently inserted into the rotation following the injuries to Wacha and Garcia. The young righty is beginning to go deeper into games, but he'll need more time to develop the endurance and stamina needed to start every fifth day.
Kelly’s return is a relief, but he will need a few more starts to shake off the rust and get back to form.
The injuries to Wacha and Garcia combined with the ineffectiveness of Miller leaves Mozeliak to search for a back-end starter. The Cardinals need a veteran presence to steal them some wins and eat up innings. Tampa Bay’s David Price would be a great addition, but the cost may be too high for Mozeliak’s liking. Boston’s Jake Peavy is another candidate who would help the Cardinals. The price for Peavy may also be too high.
No matter who it is, Mozeliak’s biggest need is to shore up the back end of the rotation.