A year ago, the St. Louis Cardinals lost their ace pitcher to a severe arm injury. Somehow, they managed to win another World Series. This year, they've lost their ace pitcher -- a different ace pitcher this time -- to a bulging disc inside his human body. It sounds serious, but might not be. Still, you don't mess around with bulging discs because when they're angry they'll snap at you. So with enough time to come up with another plan, that's what the Cardinals are doing. Derrick Goold (via stltoday.com):
Lance Lynn, the hard-throwing righty who the Cardinals believe could take over the eighth inning for them at some point in 2012, will move to a starter's program this week to provide a backup plan if Chris Carpenter is unable to pitch at the beginning of the regular season.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced the move early this morning before the team buses departed for Viera, Fla., and the split-squad game against the Washington Nationals.
Lance Lynn isn't Chris Carpenter, but seems capable of giving the Cardinals some good innings for at least a few weeks. Lynn's no piker; while his 4.43 ERA in 42 triple-A starts isn't impressive, his other numbers there were decent enough, and of course he did yeoman work out of the big club's bullpen last season.
You might recall that a year ago, faced with a similar situation -- except Adam Wainwright's injury was far more serious than Chris Carpenter's seems to be -- the Cardinals turned to Kyle McClellan, which seemed at the time a highly questionable move. Especially with Lynn on hand. I'm still not wild about that move, but McClellan pitched decently and the Cardinals went 10-8 in his games before he lost his job in the rotation to Edwin Jackson. There's possible good news about Carpenter, too:
Matheny said the team received encouraging news about Carpenter this morning. The ace, who is dealing with a bulging disc in his neck, felt better when talking with trainers on Sunday afternoon. Carpenter has not been cleared to return throwing.
So even if someone's hurt in July or Jake Westbrook's not getting it done, the Cardinals look well-equipped to fill that hole without having to trade a couple of prospects for a veteran.