ST. LOUIS -- Wanting to ensure that Carlos Martinez stays stretched out in case he is needed for a start, the Cardinals optioned the 21-year-old to Triple-A on Wednesday with the intent of having him start for Memphis one day later.
By pitching Thursday, Martinez will remain an option when the Cardinals look to fill a vacant rotation spot Tuesday. Tyler Lyons, who was optioned to the Minors on Tuesday, is the other candidate to rejoin the Cardinals' rotation. Manager Mike Matheny said Lyons will pitch a couple of innings in Memphis so he can be ready next week, if needed.
The Cardinals can get by without a fifth starter until Tuesday because of Thursday's off-day. That allows Joe Kelly to come back on normal rest to face the Pirates on Sunday and lines Adam Wainwright up to open a series in Cincinnati on Monday.
Matheny would not confirm those rotation plans, but when asked about other alternatives, he had none to offer.
"We most likely will stay on track," Matheny said, "but [have] not firmed [up] anything."
Both Martinez and Lyons will be eligible to return to the Majors on Tuesday, because that is the first day after the end of the Triple-A season, which precludes the pitchers from having to stay in the Minors for the typically required minimum of 10 days.
Martinez last pitched in relief of Lyons on Monday, going two innings and earning his first Major League win. They recalled reliever Michael Blazek in his place.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.