Once Chris Carpenter went down for the St. Louis Cardinals in January it was quite clear that somebody else in the rotation would have to step up. Early in the season it looks like Jake Westbrook is up to the task. In his first two starts of the season he has yet to give up an earned run.
On Wednesday he scattered five hits and four walks in a complete game shutout win over the Cincinnati Reds. His offense erupted 10 runs and the team cruised to a victory over their division rivals. Westbrook even added some offensive punch of his own with a hit and a run batted in.
Westbrook has been pretty solid since he came to St. Louis mid-season in 2010. His record is 30-25 and he has an ERA of 4.03, which is about a quarter of a run lower than his career ERA. He does need to give the Cardinals a few more innings than he has the past two seasons. They could really use 200 innings from Westbrook and the last two years he hasn’t even broken 184 innings. This has become even more important with the recent struggles of the bullpen after the loss of Jason Motte at the back end. Tossing a complete game on Wednesday is exactly what his team needed.
Throughout most of his career Westbrook has been a number three or four starter, but the Cardinals may need him to be more if they are going to compete in the National League Central. So far he has been the right man for the job.