Last night, TV reporter Dan McLaughlin announced that the Cardinals were calling up Marco Gonzales to their starting rotation. This addition is to counter the recent losses of Garcia and Wacha who were put on the disabled list both due to shoulder injuries. Joe Kelly is also on the DL but could make a quick recovery.
Gonzales, a South Paw, was the Cardinals’ first choice in the MLB draft (19th overall) last June in the First-Year Players draft. He is one of the Cardinals’ top prospects. At only 22 years old, Gonzales has had a fairly impressive run in High-A and AA ball out in the farm leagues. He has recorded a 2.08 ERA and a 101/26 K/BB in one out shy of 100 innings of play.
There are a few upsides to Gonzales’ Wednesday night appearance. First, he is an amazing prospect. The numbers do not lie. Gonzales has just over one strikeout per inning on average. His ratio of strikeouts to walks is nearly 4/1 which, even in the minors, is an impressive feat. Because there is no exact science for projecting the minor league to major league success ratio, a lot is up in the air. Second, “The Kid” (I’m looking to trademark this nickname) is from Colorado, which means that he will have an even greater desire to win. Yes, it’s sappy. But a rookie pitching at his home park on the first game of his career as a starter for one of the best teams in baseball has to rank up there with winning the lottery. The Kid may pull out a win. All in all, if you only watch one game this week, watch tomorrow night’s conclusion of the Rockies’ series.
But, even if Gonzales doesn’t win, the Redbirds are not in a critical position, requiring a win, pending the result of tonight’s game. If the Cardinals win tonight, they take the series from the Rockies regardless of Gonzales’ performance Wednesday. The stress would be slightly lessened if he could know that the world would not end if he gave up a few too many runs.
The move of picking up a novice from AA ball proves a common theme for the Redbirds: the Cardinals are being extremely aggressive with their pitching staff. Further, Matheny has proven himself to be a pitchers’ coach while completely ignoring the lack of offensive production from any player who is not Matt Adams. I am not sure that this bold strategy will pay off.