The St. Louis Cardinals may have to fill a spot in the starting rotation Saturday due to the fact that recent trade acquisition Justin Masterson has performed so poorly since arriving in St. Louis, going 2-2 with a 7.43 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, and .311 opponent batting average in five starts. He particularly struggled against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, as he only went three innings and put major stress on the bullpen.
Masterson’s next scheduled start would be Saturday, and there’s been speculation that a bullpen arm such as newly-recalled Tyler Lyons or Carlos Martinez could end up starting in his place. However, according to this tweet from Frank Cusumano of KSDK-TV and CBS Sports 920 AM in St. Louis, Hall of Fame baseball reporter Rick Hummel believes that 2013 first-rounder Marco Gonzales will get the start:
The Hall of Famer, Rick Hummel believes the #STLCards will start Marco Gonzales on Saturday. In Mem.,He is 4-1 with a 3.35 with 39 k’s 9 bb
— Frank Cusumano (@Frank_Cusumano) August 26, 2014
If this report is true, it would be the second big-league go-round for Gonzales this season. The lefty was recalled back in June after making only seven starts at the Double-A level. While he flashed some nice skills, it was quite clear that he wasn’t quite ready for the big time just yet, as he went 0-2 with a 7.07 ERA, a 2.29 WHIP, and a .344 opponent average. Worst of all for the Cardinals, he didn’t go more than five innings in any of his three starts.
Now with eight Triple-A starts under his belt, maybe Gonzales will be more prepared to succeed in the majors. After all, the Cardinals saw a similar uptick in performance last year from a similar player in right-hander Michael Wacha, who had originally been pressed into big-league duty in late May, following his selection in the first round of the previous June’s draft. After getting knocked around a bit, Wacha was reassigned to Triple-A, made significant progress, then re-emerged in the big leagues in August and went on to be a playoff hero.
Gonzales’s Triple-A numbers haven’t exactly been dominant, but he’s kept his head above water at the minors’ highest level, going 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and .251 opponent batting average in eight starts spanning 45.2 innings. It should be interesting to see if he’s more composed in this rumored second stint. Either way, it will be difficult for him to be worse than Masterson has been lately.