Gant, once considered a candidate to open the season in the starting rotation, is now much likelier to start 2020 in a relief role, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports. Back when Opening Day still lined up to unfold March 26, Gant appeared to have at least a decent chance of securing one of two projected rotation vacancies. However, the subsequent delay brought about by the current health crisis has bought Miles Mikolas (forearm) substantial recovery time, very likely eliminating one of those spots. Meanwhile, Carlos Martinez appeared on track to secure the other when spring training was suspended, leaving Gant with a much higher likelihood of starting the 2020 campaign out of the bullpen. The right-hander operated exclusively in that capacity during a 2019 season that saw him post a 3.66 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 18 holds across 64 appearances.
Gant was credited with his second victory of the spring in a Grapefruit League win over the Marlins on Thursday, firing two scoreless innings during which he allowed two hits and two walks while recording a strikeout. The right-hander has also had opportunities as a starter to make his case for an open rotation spot to start the regular season, but he tossed in Grapefruit League in middle relief Thursday. Gant is a lock for the Opening Day roster and has generated an impressive 2.53 ERA and .167 BAA across 10.2 innings over four appearances (two starts) during exhibition play; however, whether he opens the 2020 campaign as a starter or reliever will likely hinge on several factors, including whether the extra recovery time Miles Mikolas (forearm) will benefit from due to the delayed start of the regular season will allow the latter to be ready for Opening Day.
Gant started Saturday's Grapefruit League win over the Astros and fired four scoreless innings during which he allowed a hit and two walks while recording three strikeouts. Gant threw 52 pitches (31 strikes) overall during his appearance, which served to strengthen his case for one of two open spots in the Cardinals' rotation. The veteran right-hander has 11 starts on his major-league resume and is stretching out nicely as spring unfolds, keeping him firmly in contention in a job battle that may not be decided until just prior to the start of the regular season.
Gant started Monday's 6-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Marlins and allowed an unearned run and a walk over two scoreless innings. He struck out two. The versatile right-hander, who's in contention for one of the two season-opening vacancies in the starting rotation, made an impressive case for his candidacy with the efficient outing. Gant's one hiccup was a leadoff walk to Jonathan Villar in the first, one that came back to bite him when the Marlins veteran eventually scored on an error by Lane Thomas. Otherwise, Gant mostly breezed through his outing and fired a total of 33 pitches. The 27-year-old will look to build on Monday's performance in his next Grapefruit League turn, likely to come at some point toward the end of the week or over the weekend.
Gant is one of several pitchers on the Cardinals' staff that could have an opportunity to temporarily take Miles Mikolas' (forearm) spot in the rotation, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports. The veteran right-hander has been a valuable component of the team's pitching arsenal over the last two seasons, generating sub-4.00 ERAs in each campaign and logging 19 starts among his 90 appearances over that span. Given his body of work, Gant undoubtedly has the trust of manager Mike Shildt to fill in for a stint in the starting rotation while Mikolas recovers. However, spring performances are poised to be the final determinant of who slides into the role, with Gant facing competition from a slew of other arms that includes Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Kwang-Hyun Kim.
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