With numerous complications affecting their pitching corps this spring, the Cardinals have added another arm to their camp roster.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ supply of pitching depth has rapidly dried up over the early days of spring training this year. They’ve got four pitchers on the 40-man roster who are dealing with long-term injuries, and another three will depart camp within the next couple weeks to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Three of their non-roster invitees are also scheduled to pitch in the WBC, one (lefty Corey Littrell) received a 50-game drug suspension on Wednesday, and another (righthander Kendry Flores), is out with a shoulder injury.
With just 17 healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster and 11 healthy non-roster invitees remaining, the Cardinals decided to boost the pitching staff Thursday. Righthander Corey Baker was added to the camp roster as a non-roster invitee. Baker, a 27-year-old entering his seventh professional season who measures in at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, didn’t have a great 2016 season, posting a 5.68 ERA with a 1.58 WHIP in 130 total innings between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. Baker, a 49th-round pick in 2011, worked primarily as a starter for the first time in his professional career last season.
There are probably pitchers in the Cardinals organization who are more deserving of a spot in big-league camp than Baker, but he’ll be well-prepared, as he’s been amping up for a stint as part of Team Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic. That means Baker (as well as fellow non-roster invitee Ryan Sherriff) won’t have too many chances to participate in big-league spring training games, but he’ll at least be around for the earliest contests, when there’s a greater need for bullpen arms as starters are just beginning to get stretched out.