The St. Louis Cardinals will send struggling ace Adam Wainwright to the mound Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates as the club tries to hold on to sole possession of first place in the National League Central Division.
Wainwright (15-9, 2.59) has seen opposing hitters' batting average against him go from .201 before the All-Star Game to 2.81 after it. He struck out 4.24 hitters for every one he walked before the break and 1.96 since. He was 12-4 with a 1.83 ERA before the break and is 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA since.
After his most recent start Wainwright said he's had a "dead arm" lately. It's condition that's not uncommon that usually rights itself. But it's coming at a bad time. Hopefully he's starting to get beyond it and will be ready for the post season push. And, hopefully, for the post season.
One player who won't be making an appearance in the Cardinals rotation this time around is starter Justin Masterson.
General Manager John Mozeliak said Sunday on KMOX that the Redbirds can't afford to keep trotting out a struggling pitcher when they're trying to win a division title. He said it more diplomatically, I paraphrase. But that's the upshot.
Michael Wacha, who has been out since June with a stress injury to his shoulder blade, pitched in Class AA Springfield over the weekend and did well. Now that we've reached the end of the minor league regular season, further rehab work isn't possible. So the Cardinals might bring their young phenom up to the big leagues and piggy back him in a start to try to build his stamina.
He threw 34 pitches in Class AA, so he's a long way away from being ready to make a full start. But the Cardinals could give him five chances to build up to 100 or so pitches in time for the playoffs.
Mozeliak said Masterson will go to the bullpen. But I can't imagine what role he's going to fill other than mop up man.
Masterson is 2-3 with a 7.90 ERA since he was traded by the Cleveland Indians to St. Louis. He's allowed 34 hits -- six of them homers -- in 27 innings of work while allowing 24 runs.
With numbers drastically worse than his career norm, it's obvious that the Cardinals gave away Class AA outfield prospect James Ramsey to rent an injured hurler for two months.
Ramsey is hitting a combined .295 with 16 homers in Class AA this season.