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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cardinals Call Up Pitching Prospect Lance Lynn; But Why Is He Starting Tonight?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:48 AM

click to enlarge Lance Lynn looks a little frustrated. I know just how he feels.
  • Lance Lynn looks a little frustrated. I know just how he feels.
I must admit, this team continually finds a way to confuse and flabbergast me at every turn. Just when I think I have a proper handle on things and can see the path ahead, BAM! Out of left field, here comes another head-scratcher. 

Yesterday I posted about Kyle McClellan's impending trip to the disabled list and asked the question of who would be taking his rotation slot. My conclusion: Lance Lynn made the most sense, and it should barely even be a question. 

Well, it turns out Lance Lynn will be the pitcher brought up to start in place of K-Mac, but he won't start on Friday, which would have been his normal, scheduled day to pitch. Nor will he start on Saturday, which would just give him an extra day's rest to recover after traveling to meet the team. He will, in fact, be starting on Thursday, on three day's rest. 

I have to say, this seems like a remarkably bad idea to me. 

So let me get this straight: rather than pitch Jaime Garcia on Thursday, giving the Cardinals their best chance to earn a split with the Giants after last night's debacle, and bringing Lynn in on his normal schedule, the Cards are going to put a pitcher making his major league debut on the mound, against the defending world champions, on short rest. 

I'm very confused. This doesn't make sense on any level I can think of at the moment. I'm not going to say the Cardinals are completely punting the game tomorrow, by any means, because I'm still hoping Lynn can come in and put together a quality outing, but I really don't think this gives the team anything resembling their best chance to compete. I have no idea how often Lance Lynn has started on three days rest in his career, nor what kind of record he might have in such games, but historically, pitchers rarely put their best work on display when pitching on short rest. Oh, and did I mention he'll be making his major league debut? 

The only possible angle I can think of is Tony La Russa wants to set up his rotation for the incoming Cubs series, with Garcia, Kyle Lohse, and Chris Carpenter throwing against the Northsiders, but if that's the case I still think it's a bad idea. Sure, you want to beat the teams in your division, but the games all count the same in the standings. Losing tomorrow and beating up on the Cubs still nets you the same number of wins and losses as throwing Lynn over the weekend sometime. I suppose the Giant offense is a bit weaker (with the obvious exception of Cody Ross, who I'm so tired of seeing in the batter's box I want to punch a baby tiger in the throat just at the sound of his name), which might make Lynn's initial assignment somewhat easier. San Francisco seems to be seeing the ball just fine so far in this series, though. 

Maybe La Russa thinks this will somehow keep Lynn from having time to get nervous. Or maybe the team wants to set the bullpen a certain way before Friday night. Or maybe Lance Lynn is terrified of Thursdays, and refuses to come out of his underground bunker on a day named after a Norse lightning god. Honestly, all three of those explanations seem to have the same amount of legitimacy to me at the moment. 

So in the end, it's a zero sum game, as it so often is with this team and its eccentric management team. They bring up the pitcher who makes the most sense, but use him in a way which profoundly does not. Sunrise, sunset. 

Good luck to Lynn on his MLB debut. Let's hope we can all tell our children one day about the time we saw Lance Lynn strike out sixteen batters on short rest in his major league debut while winning a sword fight with his non-pitching hand. With a piano strapped to his back. 

What? Hey, as long as we're piling handicaps on the kid, might as well make it entertaining. 

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