The return of Carlos Martinez to the rotation should have been a celebration in the city featuring the best fans in baseball. The eccentric “Tsunami” bringing his big personality and elite level stuff back into the rotation should have been a huge step in the right direction for a Cardinals rotation that is widely known for their depth. It did not go as planned, Martinez getting smacked around for six runs over two innings. The Cardinals will need better outings from their former ace and closer going forward with the news of the injury to Miles Mikolas, sidelining him for the remainder of 2020. Martinez isn’t the only one that is going to have to step up for the Cardinals; there are multiple players that are going to need to take the next step fast.
Gomber played the role of long reliever and janitor, cleaning up the mess that Martinez made on the mound at Target Field. Gomber pitched 1.2 innings striking out one and holding down the powerful Twins lineup long enough to attempt a comeback.
Gomber’s immediate role looks like he will be in the mop up role for all starters that struggle out of the gate. Rather than utilize him as a primarily left handed stopper he will be looked upon to eat up an average of two innings per appearance. He has two plus pitches he can utilize out of the pen, making him perfect for the current landscape of the MLB.
The lengthy lefty brings a better pace to the game rather than Daniel Ponce de Leon. He can come in and immediately throw strikes which has been an issue in the past for Ponce de Leon.
At one time he was considered a potential starter, coming into the season he was considered a possible closer. Now he will be put into a premier setup role. Helsley will be looked at to pitch multiple innings in order to get to closer, Kwang Hyun Kim.
If Kim is forced into the rotation Helsley is ready to slip straight into the closer role. His ability to get out batters from both sides of the plate make him an instant successor based on the needs of the organization. Helsley has the ability and poise to take the spot and run with it.
Whitley unexpectedly excelled in 2019 at both double-A and triple-A. Whitley has the ability to miss bats averaging 10K/9 through both levels. With Ryan Helsely and Giovanny Gallegos being forced into more multi-inning roles throughout the shortened season more opportunity could come Whitely’s way down the stretch in big moments.
Whitley was utilized in relief against the Twins middle of the order that featured Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz. Whitley showed his mid-90s fastball and an exceptional change up that was able to keep the powerful bats off balance. The Cardinals will be giving the 25-year old hurler a chance to become a more important factor earlier than planned but he has the stuff to be great.
The Cardinals bullpen has been stellar to start the season. They have cleaned up the messes made by Carlos Martinez and Dakota Hudson. In the format they will have to continue to be leaned on throughout the season. Hudson and Martinez will improve but it will take more than a single person to overcome the loss of an innings eater like Mikolas. The organization will need to continue to trust their young arms and they will be rewarded.
Now if the offense could just get going….