(Baseball StL) -- The last time the Cardinals tried this it was out of pure, unadulterated desperation. Nothing less. They needed Carlos Martinez so badly in St. Louis they started the clock on one of their prized prospects and had him skip AAA entirely in the process.
It was all for protection. A roster spot, actually. Because he hardly pitched.
From May 3 through May 25, Martinez pitched in just seven games, totaling eight innings. That was it. He did well, too, when given a chance (4.50 ERA). Five of his seven appearances were terrific while two were not so good.
By the end of May, however, the Cards were getting healthier on the pitching front and knew the 21-year old needed to pitch. He also needed to build his pitch count back up in case there was a need for a starter later on.
Well, fast forward roughly a month and a half and the Cardinals are doing this again. They’re taking this prized prospect and planting him in the big league bullpen. Here’s hoping this time is different when it comes to usage.
Imagine bringing up Oscar Taveras - assuming he was healthy - and giving him Shane Robinson’s role. That wouldn’t make a lot of sense right? The guy needs to play. How else can you get better but to play? That’s what happened to Martinez the last time he was here.
That can’t happen again.
I would imagine the Cardinals, short of bullpen help because closer Edward Mujica has pitched six consecutive days, needed to make some sort of move for protection. I also would imagine it’s possible to send Martinez back to AAA once again if they so choose.
However, with the recent progression of Chris Carpenter coming back from a nerve injury in his neck and shoulder, maybe the Cardinals see their depth expanding on the starting pitching front. With Michael Wacha also in AAA, maybe the Cards see a chance to move Martinez into the bullpen while still having rotation protection going forward.
It would sure be nice if GM John Mozeliak didn’t have to trade for a middle reliever and could instead turn to his flame throwing, Dominican Republic born rising star.
We won’t have a clear view on what Mozeliak has up his sleeve until the July 31st trade deadline passes. And a lot will hinge on Chris Carpenter’s rehab assignment in the minor leagues. So it’s possible Martinez’s role will change once again.
But as long as he’s here, in St. Louis, in the big league bullpen? He has to pitch. How else is he going to continue to get better and become the dominating force we all think he can be?
I mean the guy had a 1.98 ERA in eight starts for Memphis. He’s hitting the upper 90s on a fairly regular basis.
Let him pitch. Regularly.