The St. Louis Cardinals certainly have no shortage of young star pitching prospects in their farm system. Shelby Miller sat at the top of that list of prospects coming into this season, and he has done an outstanding job fitting into a starting rotation that is arguably the best in the entire MLB right now.
The Cardinals bullpen this year has certainly not been the best in baseball, though. In fact, the Cardinals have had one of the worst bullpens in baseball this year, and it has forced general manager John Mozeliak to make some moves with the club.
The Cardinals sent both Marc Rzepczynski and Mitchell Boggs to Memphis this week and they called up prospects Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez. Maness and Martinez both made their major league debuts on Friday night in Milwaukee, and both pitchers pitched one scoreless inning of work for the Cardinals.
It is hard to tell if Maness and Martinez will both have the same success that Shelby Miller is having in the majors right now, but based on their track records they may just have that same amount of success.
In his time in the minors, Maness has a record of 18-7, an ERA of 2.80, 172 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.04; Martinez has a record of 16-12 in the minors, an ERA of 2.74, 277 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.14.
While both relievers, Maness and Martinez are both very different pitchers. Martinez throws smoke just like many of the Cardinals' pitching prospects who have arrived in St. Louis over the last few seasons.
Maness does not throw hard, but he has a very interesting and astounding stat that goes along with the rest of his resume. Maness has a career K/BB ratio of 9.56 in the minors. This is simply an outstanding number considering that the only pitcher last year to have a K/BB ratio above five was Cliff Lee, who posted a K/BB ratio of 7.39.
The Cardinals hope that Maness and Martinez will be the answer to the biggest problem they have faced so far throughout the first month of the season.
It is impossible for them to be much worse then what Boggs and Rzepczynski were for the Cardinals in the month of April. Over 10.2 innings this season, Boggs has given up 15 earned runs for a disastrous ERA of 12.66. Over eight innings this season, Rzepczynski has given up seven earned runs for an ERA of 7.88.
Normally, you would figure that if Boggs and Rzepczynski ironed out their problems in Memphis that they would be called back to the major league team as soon as possible. After all, both pitchers were essential to the 2011 and 2012 bullpens that helped the Cardinals win a World Series title two years ago and reach the NLCS last year. The hope is that once their stint in the minors is over, Boggs and Rzepczynski will be able to return to St. Louis to help the Cardinals make another deep playoff run.
What if Maness and Martinez each have great deals of success at the major league level though?
It would be hard to send both pitchers back down to the minors if they are as successful as a guy like Shelby Miller has been at the major league level. It would also be hard to leave Boggs and Rzepczynski down in the minors if they are able to fix their pitching problems.
Certainly this problem would be a great one for the Cardinals to have. It means that they would have depth at the pitching position in case more injuries occur, but it also would mean that the future is very bright for this bullpen.
Regardless of how things turn out, it will be very interesting over the next few weeks to see if there are any new faces in the St. Louis bullpen, and to see if Boggs and Rzepczynski are able to get their pitching together and get back to St. Louis.
For now, though, hopefully, Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez are the answer that the Cardinals have been waiting for to help out their bullpen problems.