The St. Louis Cardinals will be without one of their best pitchers as they face the Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin this week, and the wound is self-inflicted--another sign that the Cardinals might be resigned to their NL Central fate heading into September. Young starter Jaime Garcia, who began the year as the team's best pitcher after a sterling rookie campaign, will be skipped in favor of Memphis starter Brandon Dickson following a second half marked by brief and sometimes ineffective outings.
Garcia, who carried a 6.84 ERA across his August starts, was victimized to no small degree by his batting average on balls in play, which rose to an impossibly high .396 this month—over time most pitchers' BAbips return to a baseline of .300. But the team has been concerned about his pitch-to-pitch inefficiency for some time, and with his innings count already over 2010's total and the Cardinals hovering on the outside of contention they decided to see what rest could do.
As for Brandon Dickson, who will join the Cardinals when rosters expand on September 1, the grounder-happy starter looked sharp in a brief relief stint with the big club in July and has put together a solid season in the hitter-happy Pacific Coast League as a 26-year-old. He's walked just 1.8 batters per nine innings in Memphis, a career high.