By Jeremy Clements
As Chris Carpenter continues to battle nerve issues in his neck, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has announced the rotation the club will use at the start of the season. Matheny will roll out Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Westbrook in that order to star the year, a decision that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Kyle Lohse doesn’t have top of the rotation stuff, but he did lead the club in wins in 2011. That’s right, the Lohse won more games than any other pitcher on the Cardinals last season. His 14 wins in 2011 was 21st best in MLB and 9th best in the National League, giving Matheny plenty of reason to send the experienced starter to the mound on April 4th. He’s had a rough spring, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.95 ERA in 13.2 innings to date. It also makes sense for Lohse to lead the rotation since Adam Wainwright is coming off of Tommy John surgery and Jaime Garcia hasn’t progressed enough yet.
Jaime Garcia in the second slot will give him key starts against an improved Reds team. With Carpenter out to start the season and Wainwright still recovering from Tommy John surgery, Garcia’s starts will garner much more importance, especially those against improved teams like Cincinnati. He’s been very successful against the Reds during his career posting a 6-1 record and 3.13 ERA in seven starts against the Redlegs. This alignment will give him the start against the Reds on April 11th at Great American Ballpark and will also send him to the mound to face the Reds at Busch on the 18th.
Placing Wainwright third allows him to work his way back into form. He will be on a pitch count start the season so having two starters in front of him who are capable of going deep into ballgames is crucial to keep the bullpen fresh for when Wainwright is on the mound. He’s been solid this spring but has experienced some control issues and if he lacks command of his pitches early in the year, the bullpen could see a lot of work every third day. This spot should put him in a comfortable area while also putting him on the mound for the home opener against Chicago on April 13th.
Westbrook and Lynn make sense in the back end of the rotation. Jake Westbrook has been strong this season. He’s yet to allow a run in 12 innings of work so far this spring. He’s a ground ball pitcher who has been placed where he belongs in the rotation. He can go deep into games and eat innings if he struggles, which is ideal if the bullpen sees a lot of work in starts made by Wainwright, so the 4th spot is where Westbrook belongs. Lance Lynn is taking the spot of Chris Carpenter and is still being stretched out so that he can give you quality starts and go deep into ballgames, so placing him at the end of the rotation makes sense.
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