As much as I openly fear the one cruel, consistent truth about early Spring Training – at least one Cubs pitcher of consequence will get injured – I must concede that it is a rule that applies without passion, across the board.
That is to say, things like this will befall other NL Central competitors, too:
Carlos Martinez (shoulder) has been removed from the throwing program for two weeks to strengthen area around joint. Now questionable for opening day — as he won't have enough time to prep as a starter. Re-evaluated March 5 for return to pitcher program. #Cardinals #stlcards
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) February 19, 2019
Martinez, 27, was as good as ever last year (3.11 ERA, 3.53 FIP), but managed only 118.2 innings last year – with half of his appearances coming in relief – because of injury issues. As he ramped up this spring, those concerns about his shoulder apparently resurfaced, he got an MRI, and, although it showed no damage, there is weakness that he needs to build back up.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is staying optimistic:
#BREAKING – Mike Shildt says Carlos Martinez won’t be throwing for 2 weeks. Shildt says he’s “very optimistic and excited” because nothing has changed “structure wise” in Martinez’s shoulder #STLCards #Cardsspringtraining pic.twitter.com/p1dC1KFMeQ
— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) February 19, 2019
The reality is that the Cardinals may simply have to use Martinez as a reliever going forward if they want to get the most value out of him – he could be a dominant one. Moreover, the Cardinals have a boatload of quality rotation options, especially with Alex Reyes set to return this year after a couple lost seasons. Which is to say, I’m not actually sure they would be all that worse off with a dominant reliever Martinez all year, rather than an up-and-down, half-season’s worth of Martinez as a starter (if that’s going to happen again).