For the St. Louis Cardinals, the “next man up” motto was in full effect on Monday night. The Cardinals are a team that seems to have an unfair supply of young Major League ready arms in their stable of pitchers. After avoiding a huge scare from their ace Adam Wainwright, it was Carlos Martinez who filled in for an emergency spot start in place of Wainwright, and had a successful showing in the process for the Red Birds.
Wainwright has had a solid season thus far in 2014. In 14 starts, he is 9-3 with a 2.15 ERA. He currently leads the NL in wins, third in NL ERA, and fifth in NL strikeouts. Wainwright is seemingly on a pace right now that has him flirting with a no-hitter every time he steps on the bump. Wainwright has been as good as anyone out on the mound this year.
However, it was recently revealed that the ace very nearly dealt his team a major scare similar to the ones he has been dealing to opponents all year. After his most recent start, Wainwright revealed that he had been pitching with discomfort the past few weeks. Thankfully for the Cardinals and Wainwright, the MRI results came back negative with no reported structural damage.
In 2011, Wainwright was a recipient of Tommy John surgery, and this time around he appears fortunate to not be in need of a second procedure. The Cardinals are diagnosing the pain as similar to tennis elbow which can be caused by overuse or over extension of the elbow. On his night to pitch, St. Louis scratched the right-hander for precautionary reasons, and in his place normal set-up man Martinez filled in. Stretching out with four innings of work, he yielded just two hits and no earned runs.
While Martinez did not qualify for a win, what he was able to do was show that the Cardinals, even when backed into a difficult spot, come out firing with yet another young, quality arm. The Cardinals also have in their stable Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, and Joe Kelly as young arms who have contributed at the big league level. While Martinez has voiced his desire to become a starting pitcher, early on in his career he has already shown the ability to succeed out of the bullpen. In an emergency situation, St. Louis also was able to see a small glimpse of what it would be like if Martinez made a transition to the rotation at some point.
While losing Wainwright for a long period of time would be a crushing blow for St. Louis, the Cardinals are a team that would seemingly somehow find a way to make it work with a short-term fix. Monday night was an example of that short-term fix in the form of another young, hard-throwing major league ready arm tossed into the rotation and finding success.
Nick Schaeflein is a Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.