The rotation will consist of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jack Westbrook (all locks). Lance Lynn has a spot as long as he doesn’t fall flat on his face in Jupiter. And Jaime Garcia has one as long as he’s healthy (not a given). That’s five guys right there.
Fernando Salas is a possibility as well there, too, so he further adds to the competition you’ll see with these young up-and-coming arms in Florida.
So, again, do the math. Barring injuries, you can’t possibly fit all three of those guys onto this roster. Heck, if Salas makes the team you could conceivably not have room for TWO of them. That’s quite astonishing given the talent these kids have.
Trevor Rosenthal has the biggest arm of the bunch. In fact, he might have the biggest arm on the team. At 6’2” and 190 lbs he throws comfortably in the upper 90s and touches 100 miles an hour regularly. Going from AA-Springfield to St. Louis didn’t bother him at all, either, as he carved out an impressive 2.78 ERA in 22.2 regular season innings before dominating in the playoffs (8.2 scoreless frames). I don’t believe the Cardinals have definitively come to the conclusion as to his ultimate destination. Rosenthal’s started his entire minor league career. But his overwhelming velocity would look mighty nice in the bullpen.
Shelby Miller’s got the most hype and maybe the biggest upside - as a starter. But then again that goes back to the hype. Just about everyone in St. Louis is well aware of his story. Drafted in the first round back in 2009 he dominated all the way up until AAA-Memphis last year. Then 2012 happened. The All-American boy from Texas hit quite a speed bump. At the break, he was staring at a 6.17 ERA and a .291 opponents batting average. Yikes. But he finally turned it around in the second half (2.88 ERA, .217 opponents batting average) before getting a promotion to the big leagues. He made the postseason roster and got some valuable experience there.
Joe Kelly doesn’t have the arm of Rosenthal (although he’s got a good one himself) nor the name of Miller but he’s got something neither of them have. He’s actually proven himself at the major league level for longer than just a handful of innings. Rosenthal, while tremendous himself, only threw 33 innings total last year. Miller - at 17 - has even less. Kelly, meanwhile, threw 114 innings in 2012. While that’s a far cry from being a seasoned veteran, that’s enough to suggest he’s not just a flash in the pan. His 3.53 ERA is quite legitimate. And he was very good as well in the postseason.
So what to do? Assuming Garcia is healthy, which is not a given and could ease this problem just a bit, you will see at least one of those guys sent back to the minors. Maybe two if Salas sticks around.
It’s impossible to make a prediction at this point in time. You need to see who impresses and who disappoints in Florida before making any decisions. So I won’t even make a guess until I see who does what over the next several weeks.
But this I do know. Someone (maybe a couple someones) are going to be incredibly disappointed at the end of March when they get called into Mike Matheny’s office and told they are heading to Memphis.
That’s what happens when you’re in an organization as stacked with talent as this one is.