Don't get me wrong, I am very disappointed to see Cardinals rookie starting pitcher Shelby Miller be injured.
But I am hoping his untimely departure from the Redbirds game Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
That's possible because tests of Miller's elbow, which was hit by a line drive on his second pitch of the game, did not show any signs of a fracture or other structural damage in tests. So, hopefully, he'll only miss one more start as bruising and soreness subsides and he'll be back at it. If Miller was out for an extended period, it would almost certainly be a disaster for the home nine.
Where the potential blessing comes in: Miller's departure forced the Cardinals' reluctant hand when it comes to calling up one of the club's star pitching prospects.
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When Jake Westbrook was pressed into service Wednesday it left the Redbirds without a starting pitcher on the MLB roster who was prepared to make the start Thursday. So St. Louis dipped into the Memphis roster and grabbed Carlos Martinez to make the start.
It seems like every championship team needs an unexpected contribution to spark it. Look at the Dodgers with Yasiel Puig. They were dead in the water until Puig came up and put on a hitting display. Since then, Los Angeles is arguably the best team in baseball.
To put it bluntly, the Cardinals lately have lacked that spark. They're lost 10 of their last 14 games and seem to be without focus. Maybe Carlos Martinez can come up and make like Pedro Martinez to create some excitement. At this point, I sure don't think it could hurt.
Martinez was hot and cold as a reliever in his previous time at St. Louis this season. But he's 4-2 with a sparkling 1.76 ERA in Class AAA Memphis. In 51 innings he's allowed 40 hits and struck out 45. He's allowed 22 walks, which is a total that is a bit higher than ideal. But Westbrook has struck out 40 in 103 innings of work. Meanwhile, he's walked 43. Seriously? A major league pitcher -- in the National League, no less -- who walks more guys than he strikes out? Unbelievable and unacceptable.
Westbrook took the ball when he was asked Wednesday. But that's about all that coud be said for him. The Cardinals should have been in a position to be competitive in the game with a veteran pitcher coming in to take over in a scoreless tie. But Westbrook was absolutely terrible and allowed the Dodgers to score six runs before the smoke cleared.
Despite his apparent effort to prove he isn't a good candidate to be a relief pitcher, I'd love nothing better than to see Martinez catch fire and take over the fifth spot in the rotation while Westbrook is assigned to mop up duty. The Cardinals' win total ceiling is much lower with Westbrook taking the mound every fifth day with the potential to give his team a frustrating and demoralizing loss.
In his last 10 games, Westbrook has a 5.69 ERA. This isn't a fluke or a couple of bad games. It's a low end starting pitcher producing like a low end starting pitcher. And the Cardinals have reached the point where they need to seriously consider other options.