From the time the 2009 season came to a tragic end for the Cardinals in the postseason against the Los Angeles Dodgers it was pretty clear that Joel Piñerio would not be back in 2010 due to financial reasons.
Of course, there was always Todd Wellenmeyer, right?
I think not.
Enter Spring Training 2010 where the Cardinals featured a rotation of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Brady Penny, and...who?
That void has finally been filled with Jaime Garcia, a young left-handed pitcher who will make his season debut against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday Night Baseball. Garcia spent time with the Cardinals in the 2008 season as a relief pitcher making 10 appearances; he eventually underwent Tommy John Surgery on September 5th, missing nearly the entire 2009 season.
Garcia returned during the mid 2009 season appearing in 9 games total between the Rookie League and AAA, amassing a 2.87 ERA and 1.035 WHIP. In addition, he also started the Memphis Redbirds first playoff game on September 9th, retiring the first 13 batters.
Receiving a Spring Training invite this year, he competed with Rich Hill and Kyle McClellan to be the Cardinals 5th starter. With Rich Hill's struggles, it came down to McClellan and Garcia which resulted in Garcia taking the opportunity by the reigns. Through March 29th, Garcia has compiled a 1.42 ERA 13/5 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 innings, outstanding numbers for a rookie or even a veteran pitcher.
Whether Garcia pitches with the same attitude and poise he has shown in Spring Training remains to be seen, however most Cardinal fans can rest easy knowing there is a diamond at the end of the rotation.