The Cardinals have announced that pitcher John Smoltz has been scratched from his Monday start due to tendonitis in his pitching shoulder.
Smoltz has downplayed the problem. He said he just needs a little bit of rest and that if it was playoff time, there's no doubt that he could pitch through it. Let's hope so. Whether it's in the rotation or the bullpen, it's pretty obvious that the veteran hurler is going to have to have a significant role in the post season.
He was originally thought to be headed for the eighth inning setup spot. But Smioltz has done so well as a starter, it seemed that he could displace Kyle Lohse as the Birds' fourth starter. At 4 p.m. Sunday that possibility seemed to be reinforced by Lohse's awful start that included giving up Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson's first career homer. But when Ryan Franklin came into the game in the ninth inning when a one run lead and coughed up his second blown save in his last three tries, one has to begin to wonder if he's healthy.
Smoltz was one of the best closers in baseball not too long ago. So I would have to believe, if Franklin is hurt, he would be the go to guy at the back of the bullpen.
Fourth starters usually don't have a large role in the post season. And one might not be needed at all in the first round. But, it's more likely the Cardinals would lean on one in he NLCS and World Series. For some reason, Cardinals sarters in the Tony La Russa/Dave Duncan ERA haven't done well on short rest when playoff time comes.