Cheap Seats

Down on the farm: May 18, 2013

The Cardinals have a problem with their pitching staff.

But, for a change, it's the good kind of problem:

The team simply has more productive pitchers right now than it has roster spots. And that's before you factor in injured major leaguers Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook who both think they're going to be able to contribute in the near future.

With Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez and John Gast all making meaningful contributions at the major league level, still more high minor league starters are bucking for a promotion to St. Louis.

Michael Wacha, who was the star of the show during spring training with a stunning audition, is tearing things up at Class AAA Memphis. In his last  two starts Wacha has pitched 13 innings while allowing five hits and three earned runs. He's struck out 13 opposing hitters while walking one.

Overall, Wacha is 4-0 with a sparkling 1.89 ERA and has allowed 29 hits in 47 2/3 innings or work at Class AAA. 

Tyler Lyons has been less consistent that Wacha -- but nearly as spectacular when he's on his game. Lyons is 2-1 with a 4.47 ERA. But he was basically victimized by two bad starts. In 46 2/3 innings or work, he's struck out 38 while walking nine. A lefty, Lyons has a 1.93 ERA against left handed batters compared to a 5.11 ERA against righties. That makes me wonder if Lyons might be a guy who could help out in the major league bullpen since it doesn't seem he has much of a chance in the near future to make it as a starter.

Meanwhile, fellow lefty Marc Rzepczynski is trying to make a case to get his major league bullpen job back. He's allowed 10 hits in 9 2/3 innings at Memphis and has struck out seven while walking two. Rzepcznski has been working against both lefties and righties in the minors, with seven of this hits he allowed coming against right handed batters.

One the other side of the ball, slugging outfielder Oscar Taveras is red hot. He's batting .317 with eight doubles, four homers and five stolen bases in six tries. In his last three games, he's 7-for-15 at the plate with a homer.

Something that is a concern about Taveras is that he's not hitting against lefty pitchers at all with a .204 batting average and a .220 on-base percentage against them in 49 trips to the plate. He's hitting .392 against righties.

Infielder Ryan Jackson is hitting out of his mind with a .385 batting average, 11 doubles and two homers for the Redbirds. Second base prospect Kolten Wong, who leads Memphis with 156 plate appearances, is batting .314 with eight doubles, four triples and two homers. He's stolen six bases without being caught. In his last 10 games, Wong is hitting .404 with a .444 on-base percentage.