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How will Cardinals rotation battle be affected by Miller's shut down?

Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2013, at 9:18 PM

The St. Louis Cardinals insisted Wednesday morning that they weren't concerned about the temporary sidelining of their top pitching prospect Shelby Miller, but should they be?

Maybe. The key word in that first sentence is temporary.

It was reported that Miller would miss his scheduled throwing session today due to tightness in his right shoulder. While only Wednesday and Thursday were mentioned, no timetable was given for when he would resume throwing activities.

Shoulder tightness and stiffness are quite common, especially among young pitchers early in Spring Training, but they can also become a big deal. Cardinals lefthander Jaime Garcia is well-versed in what shoulder inflammation can mean.

Given the Cardinals pitching rotation situation it's difficult not to at least be somewhat alarmed.

Just a few short weeks ago the Cardinals had a field of eight pitchers competing for five spots. The loss of Chris Carpenter from that mix is a big hit, especially given that he wasn't actually "competing" for a spot.

Assuming what's going on with Miller is a bump in the road ahead and not a 20-car pile-up, a few days may in fact be all he needs.

If the situation does to out to be a bigger problem, and I'm not saying it will, then it will be an issue all around.

If the Cardinals crop of starters were trimmed from six all of the way down to eight, which would be difficult to weather and leave them few options in the event of an additional injury.

While Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly are both prime candidates, a prolonged Miller injury would certainly slim the competition down by uncomfortable proportions.

Miller still has plenty of time to get things in order to win the spot, but every day he's not the one on the mound gives Rosenthal the spotlight.

The flame-throwing Rosenthal has been announced as the starter for the Cardinals Grapefruit League opener on Saturday and has an opportunity to show why this slot in the rotation should be his to begin with.

When Rosenthal takes the ball, people pay attention. His first showing on Saturday will be no exception.

A solid outing would go a long way towards seeing a steep rise in his stock this spring.

While I know some will panic about Miller and start hollering to sign Kyle Lohse, I still don't think he is the answer for the Cardinals for several reasons (not the least of which is because Miller may turn out to be fine.)

The young arms (with or without Miller) need to be on the mound. It's reached the point for them where another year in the minors could do them more harm than good.

Also, Lohse isn't looking for a temporary home -- he wants long-term stability and the one shot he may have at a big pay-day. And he should. However, that simply doesn't work into the Cardinals plans.

While being content with what they have in the event of a problem is fine, it also carries with it a gamble. The gamble being, that they would be one more injury short of a real situation.

If the Cardinals did find a reason to look outside of the organization, it's unlikely Lohse would fit the profile of what they would be after.

Until a few days pass and we learn more about Miller's condition (or lack thereof) it will be difficult to speculate exactly what it means to the Cardinals.

One thing is for sure, everyone would sleep better if he's on the mound instead of in the training room.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

This is going to be a tough year for the Cardinals.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 3:05 PM

If we lose Miller, for any period of time, this season is going to suck!!! We already lost Lohse and Carpenter. Any more hits will sink the ship.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 3:54 PM

You all are being silly having a breakdown already. Our pitching is fine even if we lose Miller too. Waino, Westbrook, Garcia, and Lynn are all healthy and either Miller or Rosenthal or if nothing else Kelly are all major league level pitchers, the former two being some of the best prospects out there right now. Combine that with one of the most stellar offenses in the National League and an above average bullpen and the Cards are fine. Losing an aging Carp and Lohse who wanted more money than he is going to be worth does not suddenly destroy the rotation.

-- Posted by sideline starter on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 5:59 PM

Dustin and Jolly,

Take a Valium, hammer an ice cold PBR, grab a baseball for dummies book and calm down. Lord have mercy, they havent even played a Spring Training game.

-- Posted by DaleDoback on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 7:06 PM

Sideline you forget about Garcia's shoulder/arm problems.....

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 8:28 PM

How could anyone think Garcia will be healthy for the whole year?

-- Posted by jayrod on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 8:31 PM

I agree jayrod. If Miller's season is hindered because the shoulder issue and Garcia is hampered, yes this team is in trouble. I am not optimistic about Garcia staying healthy the whole and I think those that are optimistic are naive. If we don't have Miller or Garcia the rotation is extremely thin.






That does not scream playoff rotation to me. I'm not going to be Chicken Little and scream the sky is falling, but I'm also not going to have playoff expectations for this rotation. Plus, if we keep plucking guys from the pen to fill the holes in the rotation, then our bullpen will be extremely weak.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 10:52 PM

He has a sore shoulder after throwing live batting practice. He doesn't have a shoulder "issue". Pretty common for a young pitcher in spring training. We are looking at Waino, Garcia (100% finally), Westbrook, Lynn, and Miller. Injuries will happen, they do every year. Say Garcia goes down, you have Kelly or Rosenthal waiting to fill the spot. The Cards are loaded and very experienced.

-- Posted by DaleDoback on Wed, Feb 20, 2013, at 11:51 PM

How quickly some people forget that Lynn was an All-Star last season, in his first full season as a starter. Yes he tired late in the season, but that is expected.

Miller is a prized young pitcher and we all saw Rosenthal's potential last season.

The Cardinals can't just go out and pick up big name pitchers every season. They have done a tremendous job building a very deep and talented farm system, why not use it? They have Waino - who is a number one on most any team and Westbrook, a solid veteran that still can produce ground balls, why not throw some young core around those guys to learn from them?

At some point Miller, Kelly, and Rosenthal need a chance to prove themselves, this seems like a perfect year. Sure they may not all go out and be studs that are Cy Young contenders, but I think they will be pretty darn solid and the experience will be huge for future seasons.

Also, our offense is one of the best in the big leagues. It will make up for some potential bad outings from a few of our starters.

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Thu, Feb 21, 2013, at 11:16 AM

Dale your crazier than bearcat if you think Garcia is 100%.

-- Posted by Jolly Dump on Thu, Feb 21, 2013, at 2:46 PM


Im not crazy, but I was taught how to read when I was little.

-- Posted by DaleDoback on Thu, Feb 21, 2013, at 6:04 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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