(BaseballStL) -- There is a fine line between urgency and desperation, a distinction that may not always be noticeable, except in retrospect.
But which it is doesn’t matter for the St. Louis Cardinals at the moment. All that matters is that they feel it, whichever it is.
With just 44 games remaining and the Redbirds in the throes of a long slump, urgency is required now, before it becomes desperation later.
The latest shuffling of personnel between St. Louis and Memphis is designed to address the shifting needs as situations dictate. Enter Adron Chambers and Jermaine Curtis, the former justifying his call-up with a single swing of the bat early Wednesday morning.
Recalling Michael Wacha, one of the brightest prospects in the organization, and Sam Freeman, indicates how seriously the Cardinals view this stretch of games.
Wacha’s role, one might assume, would be the long reliever the Cardinals lacked in the disastrous game against the Dodgers in which a line drive to Shelby Miller’s arm essentially cost them two games – the one they were in and the one Jake Westbrook was supposed to pitch the next night.
Wacha is being groomed as a starter and those thoroughbreds don’t usually do well in short relief situations as the Cardinals discovered when they tried to make Joe Kelly a reliever to no effect. Kelly as a fifth starter has been lights out in a small sample size but struggled horribly as a late inning reliever. One could expect Wacha, just 22 years old, would as well. But he gives the Redbirds a weapon in the bullpen should a starter go down and a chance to stay in a game if someone makes an early exit.
One other role the Cards may have to reluctantly consider for Wacha is as a replacement for the struggling Westbrook, whose ERA is over 7 since the all-star break and who is putting nearly two men on base every inning.
Westbrook has not recovered his first half magic and if he cannot give the Cards at least 6 solid innings and a chance to win, Wacha may be forced into the rotation.
Freeman is yet another success story of very low draft picks who have blossomed as major leaguers for the Cardinals. Freeman, a 32nd round draft pick out of the University of Kansas, entered Tuesday night’s crucial game against the Pirates in the most difficult circumstances and excelled, keeping his composure, even after surrendering a walk.
It has become a 44-game season, now, with every game for the rest of the year having playoff implications because no team wants to risk the entire body of work on a single wild card play-in game.
Keep the buses running between St. Louis and Memphis.