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How necessary is it to stash Alex Reyes right now?
Well, he was the top pitching prospect in baseball when he succumbed to Tommy John surgery last spring -- one who has already semi-proven in the majors, having compiled a 1.57 ERA in 12 major-league appearances, five of them starts. And he's back to doing top-pitching-prospect-in-baseball-like things on his rehab assignment, following up a 12-strikeout one-hit effort at low Class A with a 13-strikeout, one-hit effort at Double-A Saturday.
Which prompted this response from Cardinals management:
How's that for clarity?
One point of hesitation was, of course, the timetable, which we now know is thundering toward a conclusion. The other was the role Reyes would fill. Certainly, the 23-year-old is a starter long-term, and I've suspected the Cardinals would have no hesitation putting him there after stretching him out on his rehab assignment (he went 7 2/3 innings in his last outing). But to prevent an uncomfortable situation with their current starting five, breaking him in as a reliever seemed like the more prudent course of action.
Instead, nope, "let's get crazy," they've said -- and the talent certainly warrants the approach. It's enough to push Reyes into the top 10 here, ahead of mainstays like Miguel Cabrera and Wil Myers (both of whom have murky timetables, which contributes to the ranking).
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But it doesn't solve the riddle of who's the odd man out. By the time Reyes is ready, Carlos Martinez will have likely returned from a strained lat, so there goes your easy answer. Jack Flaherty is the most recent addition and would seem another easy choice to go except that he just turned in the most impressive start of any Cardinals pitcher so far, striking out 13 over 7 2/3 two-hit innings Sunday. Miles Mikolas is a lock to stay. Michael Wacha may be the least talented of the bunch but he's too entrenched and, frankly, has pitched too well.
Which I guess would leave Luke Weaver, who's a darn talented pitcher himself and has gotten back on track in his past two outings. Either that or the Cardinals go the six-man route for a while.
Look, we still have a week to sort it all out, and in these instances, I tend to think life finds a way. So instead of overthinking it now, let's just prepare for Reyes' activation in the same way the Cardinals are: with great enthusiasm.
Again, here's the criteria for these rankings:
- How good is the player?
- What's the timetable?
- How likely is the injury to impact his performance?
Other big movers this week include Ervin Santana and Carlos Rodon, who are ramping up to return in early June (meaning as soon as a couple weeks from now). Joey Lucchesi and Marcus Stroman may be back sooner, but I don't expect them to be as impactful.
Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers SP
Carlos Martinez St. Louis Cardinals SP
Madison Bumgarner San Francisco Giants SP
Starling Marte Pittsburgh Pirates CF
A.J. Pollock Arizona Diamondbacks CF
Elvis Andrus Texas Rangers SS
Robbie Ray Arizona Diamondbacks SP
Alex Reyes St. Louis Cardinals SP
|Tommy John surgery|
Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers 1B
Wil Myers San Diego Padres RF
Daniel Murphy Washington Nationals 2B
Adam Eaton Washington Nationals CF
DJ LeMahieu Colorado Rockies 2B
Yoenis Cespedes New York Mets LF
|strained hip flexor|
Miguel Sano Minnesota Twins 3B
Adrian Beltre Texas Rangers 3B
Ryan Braun Milwaukee Brewers LF
Mike Soroka Atlanta Braves SP
Johnny Cueto San Francisco Giants SP
Mark Melancon San Francisco Giants RP
|strained elbow flexor|
Zach Britton Baltimore Orioles RP
Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals C
Ervin Santana Minnesota Twins SP
Carlos Rodon Chicago White Sox SP
Greg Bird New York Yankees 1B
|bone spur in ankle|
Mac Williamson San Francisco Giants RF
Paul DeJong St. Louis Cardinals SS
Rich Hill Los Angeles Dodgers SP
Joey Lucchesi San Diego Padres SP
Marcus Stroman Toronto Blue Jays SP