For the remainder of 2011 the St. Louis Cardinals' difficult-to-fathom trade of Colby Rasmus will depend on Edwin Jackson's performance in the Cardinals' rotation and the way their beleaguered bullpen reacts to an infusion of last year's set-up man, Kyle McClellan, and Octavio Dotel as well as LOOGY Mark Rzepczynski. But in 2012, with Jackson a free agent and Dotel another year older, the future of the trade will hinge on whether or not Marc Rzepczynski is returned to the rotation, where he showed flashes of excellence in two half-seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rzepczynski's numbers this year make him look like a prototypical lefty specialist--he strikes out seven-ish batters per nine innings, he has decent but unexceptional control, and he has great numbers against left-handers. But before this year Rzepczynski made 23 starts with the Jays in two seasons, showing off a strikeout rate near a batter an inning.
Undersized and with a reliever's repertoire--he's got a high-80s fastball and a slider he throws constantly--Rzepczynski is no sure thing to escape lefty-relieverdom, especially considering how little depth the Cardinals have at that pseudo-position. But if this trade is going to be anything but a long-term disaster for the Cardinals, they'd be wise to give him a long look as a starter in Spring Training.