Even before Jake Westbrook's back stiffness cropped up, the St. Louis Cardinals were reportedly considering giving the veteran a start or two off, if not removing him from the rotation altogether. After Westbrook has experienced discomfort in his back, there appeared to be a real chance that the left-hander would miss his next scheduled start, which comes Monday, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
That is now official, as the Cardinals have placed Westbrook on the 15-day disabled list due to his back ailment.
General manager John Mozeliak told reporters that Westbrook has been dealing with back issues over the last two weeks. He's been dealing with production issues for longer than that, which initially had the Cardinals rethinking his spot in the rotation.
"Obviously, if you're dealing with something physical,
that has to be addressed first and foremost," Mozeliak said. "I think
the performance as it stands in its own silo, you look at in terms of we need
to try to put our best five [starters] out there, if possible. I do think from
a medical standpoint, Westy is dealing with something. Now we have to determine
what's the next best step for him."
Mozeliak said that back problems could have something to do with Westbrook's performance of late, as the southpaw only lasted 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday, surrendering four earned runs on nine hits in only 75 pitches.
Regardless of the injury, St. Louis could still decide to remove Westbrook from the rotation. He's winless in his last five outings, and he has surrendered 38 hits, 28 earned runs and 16 walks over his last 26 innings, according to Langosch. He's getting hit hard, and the Cardinals can't afford to keep running him out there considering they're in the middle of a race for the division.
With Westbrook out, the Cardinals will have several young arms to choose from to replace the veteran, including Tyler Lyons, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez. To this point, it appears that the team hasn't decided which youngster will replace Westbrook.
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