Posted on August 5, 2014 at 2:40 PM
Tuesday, Aug 5 at 8:51 PM
ST. LOUIS, Mo.(BaseballSTL) -- By now everyone has time to digest the blockbuster trade which sent Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston in exchange for John Lackey (and his obscenely low $500,000 salary for next season). Most of the discussion has revolved around Craig and why the Cards were so willing to move someone just a few months removed from an All Star season.
But there’s an entirely different element to this trade which hasn’t been talked about enough though. Without Joe Kelly in the mix for the next few seasons the Cards have changed the dynamic of their starting rotation for the foreseeable future.
Adam Wainwright remains. As do Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn. Shelby Miller will get a crack at staying in the rotation – for now – but the numbers may not work out in his favor if he doesn’t figure out a way to throw a breaking pitch for a strike consistently.
Justin Masterson is just a rental while Carlos Martinez may have a hard time convincing Mike Matheny to keep him out of the bullpen.
At this point in time here’s how I would lay out the rotation for 2015:
1) Adam Wainwright
2) John Lackey
3) Michael Wacha
4) Lance Lynn
5) Shelby Miller
Miller probably gets another season to show he can develop before GM John Mozeliak gets tired of waiting for his potential to come around. Martinez just might be a better fit in the bullpen as a late inning fireballer (assuming he can find his slider again) especially with Jason Motte and Pat Neshek in the final season of their respective contracts.
Former 1st round pick Marco Gonzales, who got a brief cameo in the majors this season, is still developing in Memphis and could make a big impression with the way he finishes this season and in spring training next year. He should put himself in position to be the first guy up when there’s a need for a starter.
Lefties Tim Cooney, Tyler Lyons and John Gast also are depth starters who could all compete for the role of “next man up”.
Subtracting Kelly – and his career 3.25 ERA – from the equation and replacing him with Lackey offers the Cardinals more of a proven commodity but also someone who can chew up innings. Kelly rarely saw the 7th inning in games because of his high pitch counts early on.
A top four of Wainwright, Lackey, Wacha and Lynn is about as good as it gets. It may not be the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu but it might be the next best in the league.
Losing Kelly for a tremendous value in John Lackey does wonders for this rotation. It makes them more experienced, gives them more innings and it allows them to use the money saved to address other areas of the team.