The St. Louis Cardinals have pitching. And by pitching, I mean the club boasts a collection of arms not seen on the same staff since the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller all have No. 1 stuff,and the ability to dominate every time out. The scariest part of the equation, though, if you are an opposing team, is that the most dominant man on the staff is not even a starter.
Cardinal fans are not enamored with Lynn, despite positive advanced metrics and a terrific record. For this reason it has also been postulated that Lynn may at some point be involved in a trade, as was rumored repeatedly last offseason. Were that to happen, a spot would immediately open up in the rotation, and most observers feel that setup man Carlos Martinez would slide into the role. Some are already surprised he did not take the place of injured starter Joe Kelly, but Mike Matheny did not want to alter his bullpen’s chemistry.
At this point, the club is largely looking to solidify its pen and establish roles. Once this is done and the club finds a suitable setup man replacement for Martinez, any injury or trade will almost certainly see him ascend into the rotation. Martinez has a dizzying array of pitches, speeds and movements. He has a Bugs Bunny slider, a 99 MPH fastball and a calm demeanor on the mound. Hitters, even great ones, look genuinely amateurish when he is in command of his pitches.
Were he to enter the rotation, a front four of Wainwright, Wacha, Martinez and Miller would be devastating, and if coupled with a warming up of the bats, allow a bridge to be gapped potentially setting the team off on a massive winning streak. Currently at five games out, the Cardinals are hissing, ready to explode. Might Martinez in the rotation be the match that lights that fuse?