Westbrook could be lost for the season
Jake Westbrook, a right-handed starter known for his durability, could be lost for the season after suffering aright oblique injury on Sunday.
The 34-year-old Westbrook, who is 13-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 28 starts, felt a twinge in his right side while facing Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez in the fifth inning on Sunday. He delivered eight more pitches to complete the frame and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.
Westbrook will miss at least one start and will not accompany the team on a seven-game road trip that begins Monday in San Diego, according to MLB.com. An oblique injury tends to linger, and since the Cardinals are 74-65 and have just 23 games remaining on their regular season schedule, Westbr0ook admitted to the media that his 2012 campaign could be over.
Earlier this season, the Cardinals signed Westbrook to an extension. His previous contract included an $8.5 million mutual option for 2013. The extension covers next year and features a mutual option for 2014.
Westbrook’s absence poses a challenge for St. Louis, which has a half-game lead over the Dodgers for the second NL wild card spot. Whether Westbrook is lost for one or two starts, or the remainder of 2012, the Cardinals do have starting pitching depth. The rotation already features Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Joe Kelly and Jaime Garcia. Rookies Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal and recently called up top prospect Shelby Miller are pitching in the bullpen but project as starters for the long term.
Another possibility is Chris Carpenter, who was expected to miss all of 2012 when he had a procedure in spring training to relieve nerve compression that left his arm and much of the right side of his body numb. During the surgery, Carpenter’s top rib was removed along two of the connecting muscles to free nerves, and scar tissue was also taken out.
According to MLB.com, Carpenter is scheduled to deliver 60 to 70 pitches in a simulated game on Monday. He would not be available to take Westbrook’s next scheduled turn in the rotation but could be ready to make a start before the regular season ends.
The 37-year-old Carpenter, who won the 2005 NL Cy Young Award but has been derailed by a myriad of injuries will receive $12.5 million from the Cardinals in 2013, the final year of his contract. He last pitched in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.