How important is bringing Jake Westbrook back to the St. Louis Cardinals?

The 2010 season is still a hard one to swallow.  Chris Carpenter wasn’t in 2009 form, but still finished with a 16-9 record and a 3.22 ERA.  Adam Wainwright improved upon his 2009 season in just about every category.  Jaime Garcia, in my opinion, should easily win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, finishing at 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA.  Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday had great years.  Colby Rasmus improved a little.  Brendan Ryan, Skip Schumaker and Yadier Molina saw their numbers drop, but I think the thing that killed the Cardinals the most was Brad Penny going down early.

Before Brad Penny was injured, he had a record of 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 9 games.  Penny’s departure, along with Kyle Lohse’s injury, forced the Cardinals to use other starters.  Blake Hawksworth, Adam Ottavino, and PJ Walters had a combined 14 starts.    Here is the line from these 14 starts.

Player                       Date             IP           ER     Opp           W/L

Hawksworth           6/7/10         4             6      @LAD         L-4-12

                                  6/26/10       5            1       @KC           W-5-3

                                  7/1/10          6           3        MIL            L-1-4

                                  7/6/10          5           2        @COL       L-9-12

                                  7/11/10        5.1        2       @HOU      W-4-2

                                 7/19/10         6           4        PHI           W-8-4

                                 7/24/10         4.1        5       @CHC       L-5-6

                                 7/29/10          6          4       @NYM      L-0-4

Ottavino                 5/29/10          5.2         4      @CHC      L-0-5

                                6/5/10           5             2           MIL      W-5-4

                                6/12/10        3.2           6         @ARI    L-2-7

Walters                  5/27/10          5             0           @SD    W-8-3

                               6/1/10              4            7           CIN       L-8-9

                               9/29/10           7             0            PIT      W-4-1

So the Cardinals were 6-8 in these 14 games, and in 10 of the 14 the starter went less than 6 innings.  Even though a few of the games weren’t bad, high walk totals and loads of pitches forced the starters out to early.   Along with the injury to Lohse, this was a disaster.  The offense was very inconsistent this year, and we may have had the same record if we would have had an established starter, but it’s something to consider.

I think bringing back Westbrook is a must.  The health of a starting staff is always in question, and you can never have enough.  The Cardinals already are not sure if Kyle Lohse will ever bounce back, and I would hate to have 2 of the 5 starting spots a question mark.  It’s hard to imagine if Brad Penny was healthy for a full year if we would have made the playoffs, but his health is always a question anyway.  I liked the gamble on him, but it just didn’t work out.  If no major upgrades to the offense are going to happen, then the Cardinals are going to play in a lot of low scoring games.  Westbrook takes some of the worry away, and gives the Cardinal another pitcher who plays into Dave Duncan’s style.

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