While the Cardinals' loss of Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia has hurt the team in 2012, it will likely benefit the club in the future.
Why? Because it forced the team to dip into its young talent pool to fill the holes. Not only has Lynn received a ton of experience in the rotation that he otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to get. But Kelly is in the big leagues learning how to get major league hitters out. And the best part is that the replacement parts have done well enough to give a lot of reasons for the Cardinals to be optimistic for the future.
Lance Lynn, who was forced to fill the considerably shoes of Carpenter, has arguably been the Birds' best starter so far this year. He's 11-4 with a 3.27 ERA. Despite a three-game lull when he apparently lost his arm slot, Lynn has been very consistent and he's improved his swing and miss stuff. Lynn has allowed only 97 hits in 110 innings while whiffing 115 while walking 36.
Joe Kelly was called up to fill in for Garcia. He's been robbed by poor offense and should be 3-1 instead of 1-2. But he's got an excellent 2.75 ERA in the early going. Kelly's got a long way to go before being considered a shoe-in for the 2013 rotation. But the early returns on Kelly are good and he seems likely to be a major league player in some role next year.
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If Jaime Garcia can return from his shoulder problem to his previous form, the Cardinals will have a lot of young talent on the pitching staff for years to come. People forget because he's been around for so long that Garcia is only 25 years old -- the same age as Lynn and one year older than Kelly.
GM John Mozeliak told ESPN that he's "very optimistic" that Garcia will be back at 100 percent. But, while he didn't specify what the Birds are in the market for, he said the team will definitely be buyers as we near the trade deadline.
Their depth of young pitching should put them in good position to deal because, first, they have trade pieces they can afford to part with and, second, they have young pitchers they can integrate into the roster next season to help offset the price of veterans they may acquire.
If Shelby Miller is dealt -- and hopefully that would only happen in exchange for a veteran who is under contract for at least two more years -- it would only be because Lynn, Kelly and new Cardinals bullpenner Trevor Rosenthal have passed him on the organizational pecking order.
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