In a move that came a few months later than many thought it would, the St. Louis Cardinals have optioned righthanded pitcher Carlos Martinez to Triple-A Memphis while bringing back outfielder Shane Robinson to serve his fourth stint of the season with the big-league club.
Despite the fact that he’s returning to the minors for the first time in 2014, the move is probably in Martinez’s best interest. The 22-year-old, who is viewed by many as a premium starting pitching prospect, struggled in a bullpen role to start the year. After being moved into the starting rotation, Martinez fared slightly better, but never really built up enough stamina, as he only went longer than five innings in one of his seven starts.
Martinez, who is 0-3 with a 5.00 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, 30 strikeouts, and 15 walks in 31 relief appearances, compared to 2-1 with a 4.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 34 strikeouts, and 16 walks in seven starts, will presumably take a place in Memphis’s starting rotation and work to build up his endurance as a starter in case he is needed as a starter later this month or in September. Regardless, Martinez should be back with the big-league club in some capacity during September.
Robinson, meanwhile, will once again fill a backup outfielder role, taking a spot for a position player that was vacated by the trade of Allen Craig yesterday. While Jon Jay probably will take over as the backup at both corner outfield positions, with Peter Bourjos taking his spot in center, Robinson should get some playing time as a pinch hitter and late-inning defensive replacement. Though the 29-year-old has hit .304 in 191 Triple-A at-bats this year, he has struggled to a .140/.213/.209 line in 43 major-league at-bats. Seeing as Robinson has already been sent down to the minors three times this year, it would not be overly surprising to see him return to Memphis at some point this month if the Cardinals find someone else deserving of a chance at Triple-A.