Jake Westbrook injury: Cardinals right-hander makes first rehab start

USA TODAY Sports

The veteran is one step closer to returning to the St. Louis rotation.

The St. Louis Cardinals got some good news on the pitcher/injury front for a change, as right-hander Jake Westbrook made his first rehab start for Double-A Springfield on Tuesday, per Chad Thornburg of MLB.com.

The 35-year-old Westbrook, who has been sidelined with elbow inflammation since May 12, tossed 60 pitches over 3⅔ innings Tuesday evening. While he allowed six hits in his brief outing, only one run crossed the plate and five batters went down swinging. Westbrook also showed good command of the zone, throwing 45 of his pitches for strikes.

Westbrook is scheduled to throw a bullpen in the next few days then make his second (and possibly final) rehab start at Single-A Peoria on Sunday. The right-hander is expected to increase his workload to between 75-80 pitches on Sunday and, if all goes well, return to the Cardinals sometime next week.

The Cardinals have been hit hard by rotation injuries this year, but you wouldn't really know it by looking at the numbers. Even with Westbrook, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and John Gast all on the disabled list, St. Louis still boasts one of the strongest pitching staffs in baseball, which gives a good indication of just how deep the club's pitching is at the moment.

When Westbrook does return to the rotation, top prospect Michael Wacha is the most likely candidate to be bumped from the starting five.

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