During the very first plate appearance of last nights game, Shelby Miller took a rocket of a line drive off his throwing elbow from Carl Crawford. What followed was a fairly disastrous combination of generally very poor relief efforts, lowlighted by a 4-and-1/3 inning appearance by Jake Westbrook on short rest.
Even giving Jake Westbrook some credit for taking a surprise long relief role, what we saw was really a slightly worse version of what we've seen from him this year: more walks than strikeouts. Even Jake Westbrook doesn't get enough groundballs to make that work as a pitching approach. Coupled with an awful showing from Keith Butler and a strikeout courtesy of backup catcher/8th bullpen arm Rob Johnson, the Cardinals lost in appalling fashion, 13-4.
The first upside of this frustrating evening is that the blow to Shelby Miller's elbow did not cause any bone damage. He was diagnosed with a mere contusion, which is a 50-cent word for "bruise." I am not yet ready to declare him likely to make his next start - and there may be enough flexibility in the schedule to skip him, with an off-day on the 12th - but the hard liner could have left Miller in much worse shape. We probably won't find out whether he has any soft tissue damage beyond the bruising until he has a throwing session or two.
The other upside of the El-Bow Incident is that the club is likely to move the second goat of the evening, Keith Butler, for Carlos Martinez to take the scheduled start of the first goat of the evening, Jake Westbrook. I wish I could say with some certainty that Carlos Martinez would be allowed to stick in the majors. His yo-yoing back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis, between rotation and bullpen, has become nearly absurd. It is hard to believe that his handling this year has been helpful for his development.
I'm pleased that he's heading to the rotation to make a start. Ideally, Carlos (or Wacha) would take over Jake Westbrook's slot in the rotation. I'm skeptical that will happen under current circumstances; John Mozeliak was quoted recently as targeting Westbrook to pitch the second game of any postseason series, even ahead of Miller or Lynn.
I doubt such a move will happen while Westbrook continues to be a multi-million dollar investment for the Cardinals, absent a bigger slip-up than the one we saw last night. Unfortunately, all his peripherals point in the direction of further regression from Westbrook. Westbrook may dig his own grave so deep that he gives himself enough rope to be hoist with his own petard. Then he'll have to lie in the mixed-metaphor bed he made.
So, maybe Carlos can pack the BIG suitcase instead of the overnight bag when he comes to St. Louis. Let's hope.
And meanwhile, let's pull for Shelby and his elbow to emerge miraculously only-contused from the unfortunate encounter with Carl Crawford.