The Cardinals have removed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia from their NLDS roster because of a left rotator cuff strain, replacing him with right-handed reliever Shelby Miller.
Garcia underwent an MRI Monday after laboring through two innings during Game 2 that saw him throw 51 pitches, just 29 for strikes. While Garcia’s health ultimately didn’t prevent the Cardinals from laying a 12-4 drubbing on the Nationals in the contest, his departure allows them to add a fresh arm to their bullpen.
Miller will be the third rookie reliever in the Cardinals bullpen, along with Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal. So why did manager Mike Matheny opt to add another right-hander to the mix when he only has one lefty reliever on the NLDS roster?
“With this roster against the Nationals, felt like we have more of a need with potentially a pitcher that could go a long ways,” Matheny explained. “Especially after we just took Lance Lynn out by him throwing the amount pitches that he threw yesterday. We would need multiple innings and we would need a guy who has worked up to that, and that would be Shelby at this time.”
Lynn, who moved from the rotation to the bullpen in the middle of the season, threw three innings (50 pitches) after Garcia exited Game 2 and fared well, striking out five, but in the fifth he allowed both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche to knock out solo home runs.
Lynn’s presence in the bullpen gives the Cardinals a luxury – an All Star who won 18 games this year with plenty of postseason experience from 2011 to call on at any time. But given Garcia’s injury they could hold Lynn out for the remainder of the NLDS in the event the Cardinals would advance and need him to start in the next round. Matheny was non-committal when asked whether Lynn would be available to face the Nationals again.
“We are going to have to keep a close eye on him,” Matheny said. “He didn’t get up to the real high pitch count, but he’s also thrown a couple other days. He threw the day in Atlanta, threw the first game in the series in Washington, low pitch count but still got hot. So we’re going to have to see.
“We are kind of in unchartered territory because of the frequency he’s thrown and the elevated pitch count yesterday,” Matheny added. “We’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow and kind of take things from there. I don’t rule out having him available later.”