CHICAGO -- Approximately 10 pitches into his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday morning, Jake Westbrook stopped throwing. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and manager Mike Matheny walked his way.
The meeting on the mound was brief, and it ended with Westbrook dropping the ball and walking back into the clubhouse. His right oblique muscle was bothering him again, enough so that Westbrook said shortly after that "it's hard to image" he'll be able to pitch again this season.
Westbrook strained his right oblique near the end of a start against the Brewers on Sept. 8. His recovery seemed quick, so much so that Saturday was supposed to be Westbrook's last hurdle before returning to the rotation.
It turns out that the right-hander hadn't fully healed. And now he will be sidelined for an indefinite amount of time.
"It was just there," Westbrook said of the discomfort. "Knowing that I feel it then in the first 10 pitches, when I start getting after it, it's not going to be much better. It has slowly gotten worse each day. I was hoping I could bounce back. That's not the case."
With only 12 days until the end of the regular season, Westbrook does seem short on time to work toward a regular-season return. The Cardinals are at least fortunate that Westbrook's shutdown coincides with Chris Carpenter's return. As a result, the rotation will stay on its current schedule.
That means Lance Lynn will start Monday's series opener in Houston. Jaime Garcia will pitch Tuesday, followed by Carpenter on Wednesday. With an off-day Thursday, the Cardinals can then fiddle with their rotation for the final homestand, if they so wish.
Westbrook was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career before the oblique injury. If his season is indeed over, Westbrook will finish 13-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 28 starts. That's the most wins Westbrook has had in a season since 2006.
"It's terrible timing," Westbrook said of the injury. "That's what's so disappointing about it."