ST. LOUIS -- The right oblique injury that will keep Jake Westbrook off the mound for at least one start will create a starting opportunity for someone else. As for who that may be, the Cardinals aren't saying. So let the speculation begin.
The Cardinals have three starting pitchers -- Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Lance Lynn -- currently sitting in the bullpen, and all could step in as a fill-in for Westbrook. The start would come on Thursday, in the opening game of a key four-game series against the Dodgers.
Lynn, who was unplugged from the rotation after his Aug. 24 start, obviously has the most starting experience at this level. But the right-hander has not had encouraging results as of late. After posting a 7.79 ERA in his last four starts, Lynn has given up 10 hits and six runs (five earned) in six innings of relief.
Both Miller and Rosenthal have made strong first impressions at this level, but neither has made a Major League start. Rosenthal has made nine appearances out of the bullpen and held opponents without a run in six of those. Miller made his Major League debut on Wednesday with two shutout innings.
If the Cardinals are concerned about which spot starter could provide the most length, Miller would seem to be positioned best to win that debate. He made a six-inning start on Aug. 31.
The fourth name that has to be mentioned, is Chris Carpenter. As his throwing program is currently set up, Carpenter is scheduled to throw about 60-70 pitches during a simulated game on Monday. That workload would be too heavy for Carpenter to then make a start three days later.
However, the Cardinals could, of course, switch the schedule, should the club want Carpenter to step in immediately. And if nothing else, Carpenter's impending return gives St. Louis some cushion should Westbrook be sidelined for more than just one outing.