CHICAGO -- The Cardinals have decided to make yet another September starter swap, and they will replace rookie Luke Weaver with left-hander Jaime Garcia during this next turn through the rotation.
Garcia, who lost his rotation spot following an abbreviated Sept. 13 appearance, earned it back with a pair of strong outings in relief. He'll make that next start on Monday, when the Cardinals open a four-game series against the Reds at Busch Stadium. In starting Garcia for the series opener, the Cards can push Adam Wainwright's next start back to Tuesday.
That move not only gives Wainwright an extra day of rest, but it also lines him up to start the team's regular-season finale. And with the top three National League Wild Card contenders separated by a half-game entering Friday, much may be riding on Game 162.
The other moving piece in all of this is Weaver, whose stint in the rotation comes to a temporary end after eight starts. After opening his Major League career with a 3.48 ERA through his first six outings, Weaver stumbled in two appearances on this road trip. The Giants knocked him out after 2 2/3 innings on Sept. 16 after Weaver allowed six runs (zero earned). The Rockies then scored six times off him in a two-inning start on Wednesday.
In both games, Garcia entered in relief of Weaver and stabilized the game. In six combined innings, Garcia allowed two hits, two runs and struck out 10. It all came after a stretch of six starts in which Garcia posted an 8.23 ERA.
"Sometimes it takes a move like that not to just get him rest, but also give him a chance to figure a couple things out," manager Mike Matheny said. "We'll see how he looks next time out. I think we all know that when he's right, he needs to be on the mound. We have to try to figure out when he's right."
While Garcia readies to return to the rotation, Weaver prepares to transition to a relief role. Since turning pro, Weaver's only experience pitching out of the bullpen came during the 2015 Arizona Fall League. Matheny projected that Weaver, who threw 41 pitches on Wednesday, will be ready out of the 'pen beginning on Saturday.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.