(BaseballStL) -- Jake Westbrook’s next start is a question mark as of Thursday. Speaking in the dugout before Thursday’s game, GM John Mozeliak said the starter had been dealing with some muscle issues.
“He’s been dealing with a little bit of back stiffness, and it’s something he needs to work through,” he said.
According to the GM, the stiffness had been bothering Westbrook for a few weeks.
He has allowed 28 earned runs in his last five outings. Against the Reds at home (his next scheduled start), he threw a five hit shutout earlier this season. On the road he gave up five runs in five innings.
As for who may start in his place, Mozeliak said it’s undetermined.
“It will depend on usage,” he said. “Obviously the candidates would be Wacha, Lyons and you have Martinez down in Memphis- so you have options.”
Westbrook has allowed 30 earned runs in his last five outings. The veteran pitcher struggles to start the game, as opposing hitters are batting .356 and slugging over .500 on pitches 1-15. Those numbers drop to .197 and .177 in the next 15 pitches.
He has never won in PNC Park.
The Cardinals play 17 games straight against potential playoff teams. Beginning with a four-game set with the division-leading Braves, the two and a half week stretch sees the Birds trading home and away sets with the Reds and Pirates.
The stretch will likely determine the NL Central race, as the Cardinals won’t get a shot at the other division contenders the rest of the year.
The Pirates and Reds play six games against each other in the final 10 days of the season.
Yadier Molina will get a day off after playing six out of seven games since coming off the disabled list, and five straight heading into Thursday. The Cardinals are 5-1 in those games. He has six hits and two home runs with five runs driven in.
Speaking Thursday, Mozeliak said they have deviated from the original rest plan.
“A player like him obviously is going to have some say in whether he can go or not,” he said.
Mozeliak said medically, he sees no restrictions on Molina. Ultimately, the GM said it comes down to trust.
“You have to really have a lot of trust and believe they’re going to give you the right answer,” he said. “I think Yadi’s deserving of that.”
Oscar Taveras had surgery Wednesday, resulting in cartilage cleanup and tightening of the ligaments.
He will restricted to a cast and boot for the next eight weeks, followed by therapy. He is expected to be ready by spring training.