Time will tell if St. Louis manager Mike Matheny’s decision to skip the rotation turns of Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha in a key late season series against the Washington Nationals was the right thing to do.
It’s obvious that both hurlers, who are into uncharted waters when it comes to the number of innings they have pitched in a season, could use some rest.
But, while the Redbirds pulled off a dramatic come from behind win Tuesday, they were just short of being able to do so Wednesday.
It was tough to watch the B team take the field when there was a chance to deal their division opponents a significant blow.
Sure, two out of three is great. But sweep would have given the Cardinals a seven-game lead over the trailing Pittsburgh Pirates who come to town on Friday.
If the Cardinals won the first game of the Pirates set, they’d really put their opponents into a desperate situation. It would be pretty tough for the Pittsburghers, at that point, to continue to believe they had a chance to win the NL Central barring a total collapse by St. Louis.
Would the Cardinals have won with Wacha on the hill? It’s tough to say. They only gave up four runs in the Wednesday game. But over his career Wacha is 2-1 against the Nats with an 0.79 ERA and 11 hits allowed in 22 2/3 innings of work. He’s issued four walks against Washington while striking out 22.
I wish the Cardinals would have saved Martinez and Wacha some innings in May and June so they didn’t have to sit during important games in September. What if the Birds didn’t have a relatively comfortable lead at this point? If they were ahead by 1 1/2 games, would two strong pitchers still have sat out in key games?