According to a CBS report, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny says that Carlos Villlanueva has earned a spot in the team's major league bullpen.
That's got to be bad news for either Marco Gonzalez or Carlos Martinez. One of those two will likely end up filling the fifth spot in the rotation -- at least for the short term -- while the Redbirds try to figure out what's going on with Jaime Garcia's shoulder. The other's best option to remain in the big leagues was to pitch out of the pen.
No word was immediately available from the Cardinals about Garcia's status. But Martinez is more likely to win the starters job with Gonzales pitching in the Class AAA Memphis rotation.
St. Louis will likely have a seven-man bullpen with lefties Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist getting two spots. Righties Trevor Rosenthal, Jordan Walden, Matt Belisle and Seth Maness seem to be locks for spots, leaving just one up for grabs.
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Villanueva has been uneven in spring play with an 0-2 record with a 4.91 ERA after seven appearances. He's struck out 11 -- but allowed 14 hits -- in 11 innings of work. He's walked only two in that stretch for a 1.455 walks and hits to innings pitched ratio.
He was 5-7 with a 4.64 ERA last season with the Chicago Cubs, allowing 89 hits in 77 2/3 innings work. A lot of folks seemed to think the Redbirds added Villanueva as starting pitching depth because of Garcia's issues, problems Adam Wainwright suffered with his elbow late last year, Michael Wacha's shoulder issues and John Lackey's age. But that doesn't seem to be the case.
It's probably for the best.
In Chicago Villanueva was seemingly miscast when used as a starting pitcher. As a starter he was 1-4 with a disturbing 10.53 ERA. He allowed an amazingly bad 40 hits in 19 2/3 innings of work. One of his more noteworthy clunkers as a starter came in St. Louis on April 12, 2014 when he gave up nine earned runs on 10 hits in three innings of work.
But as a reliever he was 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA. He allowed 49 hits in 58 innings, often working two innings or more at a time as a long reliever.
It seems the skipper and the front office believe that Villanueva can take some heat off the other relievers. Plus his 90 mph fastball will be a welcome different look than St. Louis bullpen fireballers Trevor Rosenthal, Jordan Walden and potentially Carlos Martinez.