The St. Louis Cardinals could soon be receiving a major boost to their pitching situation, as lefthanded starter Jaime Garcia will make a rehab start with Class AA Springfield on Sunday, while reliever Jason Motte is also scheduled to start rehabbing in Springfield at some point this weekend.
Garcia’s recovery has been rather surprising, considering how doubtful his outlook was after he was shut down with shoulder issues in spring training following surgery on his labrum last summer. If h can fully recover, he would give the Cardinals a steady lefthanded presence in the rotation and eventually allow either Joe Kelly or Lance Lynn to return to the bullpen.
Motte, meanwhile, is on the normal recovery track following Tommy John surgery and should be ready to go by mid-May. If his mechanics are in order, he could push for his former closer role in short order, considering that his replacement Trevor Rosenthal currently possesses a 4.73 ERA. Ideally, though, Motte would be allowed to return while pitching in more low-pressure situations so he can effectively deal with the adjustments which must be made by pitchers recovering from Tommy John.
No matter what, Motte and Garcia’s returns should have significant effects on the Cardinals bullpen. Assuming continued health on the part of everyone else, it would allow the Cardinals to send rookie Eric Fornataro back to Triple-A and probably would also force struggling righty Seth Maness back to the minors. The Cardinals have clearly shown during the early going that they’re not equipped with enough bullpen depth, but with Motte and one of the current starters in the ‘pen they would be much more imposing in the late innings. And by storing big-league caliber pitchers like Fornataro and Maness at Triple-A, the Cardinals will feel much more comfortable when they inevitably suffer a bullpen injury.