Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation could start off pretty crowded in 2013, provided everybody's healthy. But Lance Lynn is unlikely to lose his grip on one of the spots.
The St. Louis Cardinals' rotation, going into 2013, is a weird combination of technically deep and practically shallow. Looking at the depth chart, the Cardinals have a lot of pitchers with claims on their five rotation spots—Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, and Trevor Rosenthal, by my count. Now that the Cardinals have made a qualifying offer to Kyle Lohse, there's also the outside chance they'll be paying another veteran $13.3 million if the free agency market collapses around him.
Practically, though—well, things aren't nearly so overstuffed. Chris Carpenter made six starts last season, and they didn't go especially well. Jaime Garcia dealt with shoulder problems on two separate occasions, and ended the season off the postseason roster. Joe Kelly's minor league numbers didn't portend his major league success, and Trevor Rosenthal has yet to make a start above the AA Texas League. And few expect Kyle Lohse's time on the open market to be a repeat of his abortive 2007 stint as free-agent-of-the-moment.
With all that uncertainty, then, Lance Lynn, with his batter-an-inning strikeout rate and late-season turnaround, is what passes for stability in this rotation. The Cardinals might make noises about a competition, but unless Lynn struggles mightily in the spring he's all but a rotation lock.