(BaseballStL) -- One of the big storylines for the Redbirds as the 2015 season comes nearer is how in the world they’re going to limit the work of all the starting pitchers who need it.
Carlos Martinez is just 23 years old and has thrown just 117.2 innings in his big league career. Michael Wacha’s coming off a season where he missed nearly three months with a shoulder injury. Penciling him in for 200 innings this year would be foolish.
Then there’s Adam Wainwright. The Cards ace needed arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow this offseason. GM John Mozeliak admitted at the Winter Warm-Up that he’ll indeed get some rest during the regular season.
Basically, 60 percent of the starting rotation will need some form of rest during the year to avoid pitching too many innings and wearing down. Only Lance Lynn and John Lackey will be full go to pitch as much as they can all season.
How can the Cardinals make this happen? It won’t be by using a 6-man rotation. Mike Matheny said there’d be a “mutiny” if that happened.
Well, I have a quasi-idea. It’s a way of getting creative by using the depth the Cardinals have. It also allows them to get significant starting experience to arguably their top prospect (Marco Gonzales) without overusing him as well.
Here’s what I’d do:
Start the season as you would normally plan. Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez are in the rotation while Marco Gonzales is pitching out of the bullpen. You stick with that alignment through April and maybe half of May.
Around the middle of that month you insert Gonzales into the rotation – you’d probably need to go short on the bench and bring up another reliever for a brief period of time – and give Wainwright a couple starts off. He won’t like it but it’s necessary.
Once June hits you option Carlos Martinez to AAA. Obviously, he won’t be pitching for Memphis. This is all designed to give him time off. Gonzales continues to start while the rest of the starters do their thing.
In July you do the same thing with Michael Wacha. Martinez returns, Wacha goes out. He gets the month off just like Martinez did in June.
Then in August you bring Wacha back and do the same thing you did with Wainwright in May again. Once again you might have to bring up another reliever and go short on the bench to compensate.
Once Wainwright’s gotten a couple starts off Gonzales returns to the bullpen and finishes the year there. By doing it this way Gonzales doesn’t have to worry about being yo-yo’d between the bullpen and rotation all year. He can build up his stamina in spring training as a starter before backing off for the first six weeks. He can then be a starter for a few months before backing off again late in the year. That makes sure he himself doesn’t throw too many innings in 2015 either.
In a perfect world this would work well. Wainwright, Wacha and Martinez all get the requisite rest they need while Gonzales gets the necessary experience to possibly replace Lackey in 2016.
There’s just one problem. The world is hardly perfect. Pitchers get hurt. It always happens. And even though you have Jaime Garcia (maybe), Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney ready to pick up starts if someone were to get injured it might throw a major wrench into that master plan.
I’m not exactly sure what the Cardinals will have cooked up to find rest for those three pitchers this season. It could be similar to what I mentioned. It could be completely different. But make no mistake about it, there will be a plan.