Before the start of this season there were serious questions concerning the Cardinals starting rotation. Would Adam Wainwright bounce back from a sub par year in 2012? Was Shelby Miller ready for a spot in the rotation as a rookie? Would Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook be able to pitch deep into their starts and not wear out the bullpen? With nearly a month of the season in the books the answer to those questions are yes, yes, and yes.
(Baseball StL -- Wainwright has been nothing short of spectacular. Miller is among the early candidates for rookie of the year. Westbrook didn’t allow a run until his third start. Garcia seems to found a way to avoid mid-game mental meltdowns. Lynn has won his first three starts and has 25 strike outs in 22 innings.
On paper there might be better starting staffs on other teams (San Francisco, Detroit, Boston), but the stats of the five Cardinals starters are as impressive as any in baseball:
Wainwright 4-1, 1.93 era
Westbrook 1-1, 1.25 era
Miller 3-1, 2.16 era
Garcia 2-1, 2.89 era
Lynn 3-0, 3.68 era
Granted, it’s still very early in the season and things can change in a hurry. But for now, you can’t ask for better results than what the Cardinals are getting from their starters. There’s plenty of credit to go around. Nobody does a better job of handling pitchers than Yadier Molina. Mike Matheny had the same kind of reputation when he was catching. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist flies under the radar, but has the respect of his staff.
Meanwhile, the top pitching prospect in the minors, Michael Wacha, is off to a 3-0 start with a 1.96 era at AAA Memphis. If one of the current five starters should suddenly struggle or get hurt, Wacha appears ready to make the move to the big leagues.