With Garcia coming back, tough decisions await

With Garcia coming back, tough decisions await

With Garcia coming back, tough decisions await
ST. LOUIS -- Not only are the Cardinals abstaining from announcing when they plan to insert Jaime Garcia back into the starting rotation, but the club is also not revealing how it intends to do so.

Right now, St. Louis has a solid rotation of five that has posted a combined 3.29 ERA in Garcia's absence. So what kind of wrinkle will Garcia's return create?

Manager Mike Matheny basically shut down speculation of a true six-man rotation, noting on Sunday that "we haven't talked about that." That's not to say, though, that the Cardinals couldn't utilize a modified five-man rotation with six pitchers.

With Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly on track to throw more innings than either has in one season before, the Cardinals are already weighing how far both can be pushed. Then there's the case of Adam Wainwright. While Wainwright has thrown more than 230 regular-season innings twice in his career, he is coming off a season in which he threw zero.

If the Cardinals want to find opportunities to rest any of these pitchers without removing them entirely from the rotation, they could do so by subbing pitchers in and out each time through the rotation. The issue with this format, as Matheny pointed out, is that it could make it tough for everyone to maintain a consistent routine.

"We just want to get all our players healthy and then we'll figure out how to use them the best way we can," Matheny said. "We've been thinking about this for a long time, since [Garcia] went down. [We're] trying to figure out what's best for us and what's best for everybody. We'll address that when we get to it."

The most obvious option, of course, is to drop a current member of the rotation and replace him with Garcia. That would likely cost Kelly his spot, though the Cardinals could also use this as an opportunity to move Lynn to the bullpen. Doing so would not only help lower Lynn's workload, but it would inject a power arm into the back end of the 'pen.

The Cardinals' rotation plans likely won't be announced until after Garcia wraps up his time in the Minors. Garcia said on Sunday that he anticipates he'll be ready to come off the disabled list after his Double-A outing next Thursday.