ST. LOUIS -- With their rotation already altered by Shelby Miller's abbreviated start on Wednesday, the Cardinals have decided to further tweak their pitching plans.
In addition to calling up Carlos Martinez to start on Thursday, the Cardinals now plan to summon right-hander Michael Wacha to pitch against the Cubs on Saturday. As a result, Joe Kelly will start on Sunday, and Adam Wainwright's next start has been pushed back, from Saturday to Tuesday. That not only gives Wainwright three additional days off, it lines him up to start the opener of next week's critical three-game series against Pittsburgh.
Lance Lynn remains Friday's scheduled starter.
"We talk about this long stretch of games and how our starters just continue to go out there on normal rest," manager Mike Matheny said. "We have an off-day coming. I think that's an opportunity to get Michael in there and give our guys a little more rest. And I think with what we saw with Jake [Westbrook] last night and a guy going [on] short [rest], I think it gives him an opportunity to get a little more rest on the backside as well."
The insertion of Wacha this weekend also provides the Cardinals with the flexibility to go in a handful of directions with the rotation against the Pirates. Miller hopes to be back that week, and Lynn would be fresh enough to pitch in either of the final two games of the series as well. That would allow the Cardinals the option of pushing Westbrook out of that series entirely.
That is an interesting proposition given Westbrook's career numbers -- 1-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 15 career games (11 starts) -- against the Pirates.
The Cardinals will have to add Wacha to the 25-man roster before Saturday, though that can be done by sending Martinez back down after his Thursday start. The Cardinals have not yet committed to how long Wacha's stay may be.
Wacha made three appearances for the Cardinals earlier this summer and allowed nine earned runs on 17 hits in 17 2/3 innings. Six of those runs and 10 of the hits were given up in one 4 2/3-inning start.
The organization put Wacha on a six-day rotation schedule when he returned to Triple-A in order to monitor his workload. In six starts since being demoted, he posted a 3.51 ERA, struck out 39 and walked four in 33 1/3 innings.
"We've been talking about Michael for a while, trying to get him back into the mix here," Matheny said. "It's been that balance all season, not getting the young guys too much, but also getting them enough. I think this will be a good opportunity to get Michael here."
Wacha and Martinez are currently ranked by MLB.com as the organization's top two pitching prospects.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.