Kyle McClellan to Hit the DL; Who Takes His Turn?

click to enlarge The Cardinals' current roster.
The Cardinals' current roster.
UPDATE POSTED 6/12: In the original version of this post, I mistakenly indicated that Adam Ottavino was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. It should have been a shoulder injury, rather than shoulder surgery

In fact, Ottavino opted against surgical means to repair his ailing right shoulder, instead choosing to rehab it over the offseason. My apologies to Ottavino and my dozens (I wish) of readers for the error.

While I'm at it, the Cardinals wound up replacing Kyle McClellan in the starting rotation with Lance Lynn. The club also called up Maikel Cleto, another pitcher, to fill outfielder Matt Holliday's place on the roster. Both McClelland and Holliday are on the fifteen-day disabled list. 


It looks like Kyle McClellan is headed for the disabled list. He's scheduled to have an MRI on his hip today, and all indications are that he'll be placed on the DL shortly afterward. K-Mac was pulled from his last start with discomfort in the joint, and it's already been confirmed he'll miss his next scheduled start on Friday. If he does indeed go on the disabled list, it will be more than one start he misses, as he won't be eligible to be reactivated until the 15th of June, even if the team makes the assignment retroactive.
McClellan has been a pleasant surprise in the rotation this season, even if it's a little difficult to figure out exactly how he's doing it. Losing him will certainly be a blow to the rotation, but hopefully the team does the right thing and avoids pressing him to return before he's ready. After all, the likely move of Matt Holliday to the disabled list himself should show pretty clearly what happens when a player tries to come back from an injury before it's healed. (And don't even get me started on the refusal to just DL Holliday when he got hurt. We'll be here all day listening to me bitching, and no one wants that.) 

In the meantime, the most pressing question is who do the Cards have available to make K-Mac's next start or two. A brief discussion of the three most likely candidates follows the break. 

Miguel Batista -- I think I've made it fairly clear since the beginning of the season how I feel about Miguel Batista. I think he's a terrible pitcher (though probably a really nice person), and barely has a place on this roster at all. 

That being said, if McClellan were going to miss just a single start, Batista might actually make for the best option to take his turn. Using a player on the roster would avoid disrupting the schedule of any pitchers in the minors just for one start (not that I think any of them would complain about the chance to pitch for the big league club, but it does create issues as far as filling that hole, as well as working the guy back into the schedule when he returns), and prevent any odd 40-man machinations from taking place. Plus, the biggest reason Batista was brought in to begin with was his versatility and the insurance he added as a possible sixth starter type, right? 

If McClellan does hit the DL, I think the Cardinals will make a move in a different direction. Letting Batista take one turn wouldn't be the worst thing in the world; we could all just cross our fingers and hope for a big offensive night. But letting him make two or three -- or even more, depending on how K-Mac progresses -- turns through the rotation just does't make sense. Still, this managerial staff doesn't always do things I think are sensible, so it's not out of the question, I suppose. 

Mitchell Boggs -- You'll all recall, I'm sure, Boggsy was sent down just recently in order to make room for one Jared Schumaker on the roster, which prompted some rather negative comments from yours truly. Boggs is currently working as a starter in Memphis, ostensibly just to get in extra work on his full repertoire in preparation to return to the majors as a reliever. 

Given that backdrop, Boggs would make a certain amount of sense. He's done the starter's job in the past, he's currently stretching out to handle multiple inning assignments, the coaching staff knows him well, and he's on the 40-man roster. Not the worst option, anyhow. 

On the other hand, having only made a couple appearances as a starter, I'm not sure Boggs is stretched out enough yet to trust him making a start at the big league level just yet. At the very least, it would likely be a short start, forcing the Cards to tax their bullpen. Which wouldn't be the end of the world, I suppose, except the next reliever up in case the club needs innings would be, well, Mitchell Boggs. Kind of a tough situation, to ask him to make a start and then absorb some innings in the 'pen the next couple nights. 

Lance Lynn -- The closest thing the Cardinals have right now to a sixth starter, particularly since PJ Walters was bumped off the 40-man roster and Adam Ottavino is still working to regain his form after a shoulder injury, Lynn is, to my mind, the most sensible choice. He's put in his time in Triple A, he projects to pitch reasonably well at the major league level, and in an odd bit of serendipity, his scheduled day to pitch in the rotation next falls on -- yep, you guessed it -- Friday. 

The only stumbling block to Lynn coming up is the fact he isn't currently on the Cardinals' 40-man roster. Meaning, of course, he would have to be added before he could be called up. It's really not a big deal, at least in this case, as the Cards currently have two empty spots after dropping Walters and releasing Blake King, the reliever who was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros. Lynn could easily be added to the roster, unless the team specifically needed those two spots for something in the near term, i.e. a trade, free agent signing, or the like. 

Personally, I'm hoping it's Lynn. He's been conditioned as a starter all season, so stamina wouldn't be an issue as it would with Boggs, and he's less likely to walk the park than Batista. Now seems as good a time as any to get the kid up for his major league debut and see if he can't Wally Pipp poor old K-Mac. 

There's also the chance, I suppose, of the Cardinals going out and trading for another starter if McClellan looks to be out for a long period of time and the coaching staff doesn't believe in Lynn. I don't see it happening, but there's always the possibility. 

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