(KMOV/Jeff Abeln) -- Whether the Cardinals admit it or not, after Adam Wainwright went down for the season it put tremendous pressure on the pitching staff to elevate their game to make up for the loss of the 20-game winner in Wainwright.
After Wano injured himself, I said Jaime Garcia would be looked to and counted on the most to lead the pitching staff in 2011. His last outing was rough, no question about it, but I believe there’s no reason to freak out just yet. Garcia is coming off an outstanding rookie campaign where the 24-year-old won 13 games and posted an ERA under three, you don’t just lose your “stuff” that quickly, but it is important for Garcia not to pitch outside himself and try to make up for Wainwright’s absence. Garcia endured Tommy John surgery following the 2008 season, and I’m certainly not saying baby him, but keeping a close eye on his pitch count and innings is a good idea so he can remain healthy and avoid a sophomore slump.
Earlier in spring training Kyle McClellan made it perfectly clear that he wants the fifth spot in the starting rotation and thus far he’s making a case to Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan that he is that guy that can get the job done. Tuesday, McClellan tossed a one-hitter and gave up zero runs over five innings; he also struck out five. The St. Louis native has surrendered six hits and one run in 12 innings in spring training. McClellan used to be a starter in the minor leagues so transitioning from a reliever’s role to a starter I don’t think would be difficult for him. And if the 26-year-old did win the starting job it would be historic. According to an article written by Rob Rains at robrains.com, in the last 100 years, there have only been nine pitchers who were born and raised in either St. Louis or St. Louis County to start a game on the mound for the Cardinals.
If there’s any pitcher who needs to have a bounce–back-season, it’s Kyle Lohse. Last year he compiled a 4-8 record with a 6.55 ERA in 18 games. He’s dealt with injuries the past two seasons but now that he’s apparently healthy, thus far in spring training we’re seeing signs of a 2008 Kyle Lohse when he won 15 games in a Cardinal uniform. Monday, Lohse threw six innings of one hit baseball. He is now 2-0 and has worked 13 innings surrendering just two runs. Lohse is set to make just under $12 million this season; I think 15 wins would justify the money.