Sunday’s developments were certainly beneficial for the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff, as lefthander Jaime Garcia returned from a layoff of over a year to make the start, while the team announced that reliever Jason Motte will be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, prior to the start of the Cards’ series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Garcia wasn’t fantastic on Sunday, but his performance was a definite upgrade over what the Cardinals have gotten from his predecessor, Tyler Lyons. Garcia’s 7-inning performance, in which he gave up four earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks, was particularly better than Lyons’ Monday start, which saw him give up nine earned runs on nine hits over four innings. And if Garcia can stay healthy, his presence will eventually pay dividends to the Cards’ bullpen by allowing injured starter Joe Kelly to return in a relief role.
Motte, meanwhile, should provide a steadying presence to the Cardinals’ bullpen. While his activation will likely force the demotion of lefthander Sam Freeman, who has some good upside, it will allow him to handle some of the high-pressure situations which young relievers like Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist haven’t been able to get through consistently this year. Though Motte probably won’t be able to go back-to-back days too frequently as he gets going, his availability will allow Martinez to primarily handle seventh-inning duties, while other pitchers like Seth Maness and Pat Neshek will be able to take lower-pressure situations.
The expectations shouldn’t be ridiculously high for Garcia and Motte over the next few weeks, as they still need to get back into the rhythm of things after long periods between major league appearances. But if they can stay healthy, they should certainly increase the Cardinals’ chances as the team gets deep into the summer months.