Reyes, Weaver show Cards' future looks bright

Reyes, Weaver show Cards' future looks bright

CHICAGO -- There was a moment during Saturday's 8-4 win over the Cubs when manager Mike Matheny briefly let his mind wander. He had watched a composed Luke Weaver cover four solid innings in his Major League debut, and he was now marveling at Alex Reyes' advanced repertoire.

It was impossible, Matheny said, not to dream about what could be many more years of watching these two young pitchers thrive and potentially take the torch as future anchors in the Cardinals' rotation

"I couldn't have been any more impressed and happy about how these guys went out and did their job," Matheny said about the organization's top two prospects. "The impact that they can make on our club right now, but let alone in the future. … You couldn't have probably thrown them into a hotter spot than what we threw them into."

The Cardinals' future indeed looked bright on Saturday, as the organization countered the Cubs' youth movement with a statement of its own. Weaver limited a Cubs team that had won 11 straight to two runs in his four-inning debut. Reyes then followed with three shutout frames.

The offense pecked away during Reyes' outing and, after blowing the game open with a six-run eighth, rewarded the 21-year-old right-hander with his first Major League win.

"To see how well Luke and Mr. Reyes handled it was impressive," general manager John Mozeliak said. "You can certainly see why our organization has been so excited about both of those pitchers. We're not on empty down there [in the Minors]. I think today you got to see that."

The Cardinals are in a unique position to flaunt their future during a time in which they're still trying to win in the present. Instead of being overly active at the non-waiver Trade Deadline earlier this month, the Cardinals have entrusted a pennant race their two top prospects.

"I hope that they also process that and realize that, 'Hey, this team is in this [postseason race], and they want us pitching.'" Matheny said. "They deserved it, too."

Weaver began his big league career with a first-pitch strike to Dexter Fowler, whom the righty then finished with a strikeout. The 22-year-old was tested during a 34-pitch second inning. Addison Russell blasted a two-run homer and the Cubs loaded the bases, but Weaver wiggled out of it.

Weaver's solid debut

He adjusted from there and closed his outing with a 1-2-3 fourth.

"Obviously, this is a different level and it's tough, but it was a lot of fun competing out there," Weaver said. "Once I got out of that second inning, I needed to refocus and get back to that first inning and the way I threw the ball."

The game then belonged to Reyes, who had pitched a perfect inning in his debut three days earlier. This outing was just as strong. While hitting triple digits on the radar gun and flashing a changeup that he hadn't needed in his first appearance, Reyes faced the minimum over three innings.

And the Cubs took notice.

"That guy Reyes is good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said afterward. "He's going to be a very good pitcher. He's outstanding -- good delivery, good stuff."

Weaver is expected to get another turn in a rotation that is without Michael Wacha for an undetermined period of time, and Reyes will continue to loom as a weapon in the bullpen. If needed, he, too, could fill a starting void.

Whatever their roles, the Cardinals are confident that both are ready for this stage.

"When we got Michael Wacha in 2013 and [Carlos Martinez], we knew what kind of talent they had," catcher Yadier Molina said. "When I'm catching Weaver and Reyes, they have so much talent. They showed up today. They showed what they could do in the big leagues against a good team, the Cubs. I'm excited about it."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.