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Lynn still puzzling batters and a future dilemma

Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012, at 10:18 AM

With the huge number of things that went wrong in Tuesday's game, at least that many went right Wednesday afternoon when the Cardinals took the field for the final of a six game road trip.

Lance Lynn, rookie bullpen ox turned rotation phenom, did it again on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley. In eight innings, Lynn surrendered only one run, and that was through a homerun. He pulled seven strikeouts and gave up only six hits.

Did I forget to mention that he is the only man in the rotation with a 4-0 record? How about that he is the only pitcher in the majors with four wins? Not too bad for a "rookie." While we still call him a rookie, he won't be eligible for rookie of the year honors because of his appearances in 2011.

He may have been classified as one, but he sure hasn't been pitching like one.

I know many people have their doubts about him as a starter, but he has all of the right tools. He's confident, mentally stable on the mound, has a good toolbox and impeccable control. As he goes deeper into the season and teams see him several times, he will have to adjust. That's when he will face the real test.

Frankly, I think he's up to it. In the mean time, it leaves an interesting question unanswered: What happens when Carpenter returns?

Assuming Wainwright continues in the right direction, and Carpenter returns as well, what happens to the rotation?

The answer depends on how you look at the question.

In terms of performance, so far Wainwright has struggled the most. He's not going to the bullpen or Memphis unless they deem him to need some additional rehab time, but I don't expect that.

Lynn would be the natural choice to go down since the loss of Carpenter is why they brought him into the rotation, but if he's pitching at even half of his current level that can't happen. He was valuable to the bullpen, but if he stays even close to his current pace he's invaluable to the rotation.

The other, and most likely, possibility is to send Jake Westbrook to the bullpen, but he's throwing as good as everyone else.

Another route they could choose to take, while out of the ordinary, is to go to six-man rotation. Most don't like doing this because they feel like it messes up their pitchers fifth-day routine too much, but it CAN be done. I'm not so sure it should though.

Realistically, these things usually have a way of working themselves out. Sometimes another pitcher winds up injured or really starts to stink it up and makes the decision a lot easier.

In the mean time, the Cardinals situation is that they have too many good starters to make room for a pitcher who is now a franchise legend. There is plenty of time to work it out because Carpenter is still a while from making his return.

Besides, if you just HAVE to have a problem, this is the right kind of problem to have.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com , call (573)624-4545 or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

Follow him on Twitter @coreynoles

Don't forget to dive into this week's contest to win a copy of A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions "BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 2011 WORLD SERIES GAME 6 Bluray/DVD Combo Pack." If you know which past Cardinals player had the most career intentional walks prior to 2008 then enter before Thursday, April 26 at noon. Just click on this link to read more and find out how to enter.

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I'm sure this will work itself out. By the time Carpenter comes back, someone will not be pitching well or injured. If Lynn continues even close to this you can bet him or Wainwright will not come out of the rotation. It will be someone else.

-- Posted by paulm on Thu, Apr 26, 2012, at 12:20 PM

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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