The fear that the bulging disk in Chris Carpenter’s neck wouldn’t heal in short period of time is now a reality. Carpenter is being shut down and was flown back to St. Louis for further testing yesterday and it’s assumed he’ll start the season on the DL. The Cards started stretching out Lance Lynn when Carpenter appeared uncertain two weeks ago and now he’ll be officially taking Carp’s place in the rotation. Even though I was previously in favor of the Cards reaching out to Roy Oswalt, I think the right thing to do at this time is to give Lynn his shot, and here are a few reasons why.
The first reason is that Lynn was probably going to be in the rotation in 2013 with Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse coming off the books. Lynn was a first round pick in 2008, and has been used as a starter throughout his minor league career with a lot of success. He has a 3.69 ERA and a SO/9 rate of 7.8 at the lower levels combined. There’s no need to panic and pull the trigger on Oswalt until Lynn proves he can’t get the job done. Oswalt also has bulging disk problems, so he might be better served to not play a full season at this point in his career.
Another reason is the strength of the bullpen, even with Lynn in the starting rotation. Sure, Lynn would look good as the set-up man to closer Jason Motte, but the Cards have plenty of power arms. The addition of Scott Linebrink during the winter has helped the Cards with this decision. In fact, depending on how many pitchers Mike Matheny decides to go north with, it’s still a little crowded. Along with Motte and Linebrink from the right side, the Cards have Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs and Kyle McClellan. Assuming Matheny keeps J.C. Romero as the second LHP to go along with Scrabble, that still leaves possibly one young arm that starts the year at Memphis.
The only way to look at it now is hopefully this is a blessing in disguise. Lynn gets some experience in the rotation, and Carpenter gets to take a break on his arm. If all goes well, hopefully Carp is back in the rotation sometime in June or July whether it is from rest or from surgery. As long as the rest of the pitching staff remains healthy, the Cards should still be in the mix in 2012.