On Tuesday, I watched a reprise of Monday’s matchup between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
Last year, the Cardinals had a new starting pitcher that emerged to become a major factor, rookie Jaime Garcia. As noted here in Sunday’s report, Garcia was hammered by the Mets and after three outings is carrying a 10.00 ERA. It is too early to panic but not too early to be concerned about the lefty
With Adam Wainwright out for the season, Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan have to break in a new rotation member for the second consecutive spring. Right-hander Kyle McClellan lost out to Garcia one year ago despite a spring ERA of 3.00
12 months later, McClellan is in firm control. Early in Tuesday’s contest, he logged three consecutive strikeouts. The victims were the revitalized Nate McLouth, batting .429 coming in, followed by Brian McCann and Dan Uggla, with seven All-Star Game appearances between them.
McClellan finished his day after allowing just three base runners over five innings on just one hit and two walks. He fanned five and did it on an economical 66 pitches of which 40 were strikes. McClellan ended his outing by retiring the last ten batters faced. On the spring, he’s yielded just one run in 12 innings of work. It is a small body of work, but it has been most impressive.
La Russa and Duncan often laud McClellan’s ability to throw four pitches for strikes – an unusual trait for a reliever. In fact, McClellan did start in the minors, but post-Tommy John surgery, he made the jump from Double-A straight to the majors in 2008 and hasn’t looked back. The 26-year-old has a career 3.23 ERA and a 170/83 strikeout to walk ratio in 217 2/3 career MLB innings
While La Russa has yet to formally declare McClellan the winner of the job, he seems a virtual lock. A carbon copy of Garcia’s 13-win 2010 season and a third-place standing in the National League Rookie of the Year vote may be too much to expect from McClellan in his first year in the rotation, but keep this name in mind late in your NL drafts.
This is my last eyewitness report from Florida as I head to New York for this coming weekend’s Tout Wars drafts. Make sure you follow Tout Wars, now on Twitter. More details on the 2011 AL/NL/Mixed drafts can be found at www.toutwars.com.