Cardinals Ready Wainwright, Send Weaver Down

(photo: Luke Weaver/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Starting pitcher Luke Weaver has been optioned to Memphis, with Sam Tuivailala becoming the St. Louis Cardinals’ ninth reliever – at least for this weekend. Adam Wainwright’s return from the disabled list nears.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Sam Tuivailala (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced that they have recalled right-handed pitcher Sam Tuivailala from Memphis (AAA) prior to this evening’s (Friday’s) game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. In addition, the club optioned right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver to Memphis following yesterday’s game.

Tuivailala, 24, is 1-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 18 games with the team’s Triple-A team, allowing just three earned runs in his 21.1 innings pitched. He’s walked three and fanned 21 at Memphis, and currently has an eight game, 10.0 inning scoreless streak. This is Tui’s 5th time with the Major League club this season where he has appeared in 18 games (21.0 IP) and is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA, with 13 of his 18 outings scoreless.

Luke Weaver/USA TODAY Sports Images

Weaver made his 2nd start of 2017 for St. Louis on Wednesday in Milwaukee and earned the win, allowing two runs in 6.1 innings of a team 5-4 victory over the Brewers. It was his second start for St. Louis this year (also 7/27 vs. ARI, 5.0 IP, 4R (grand slam), 4-0 loss). Weaver, 23, who missed a month to begin the season on the disabled list at Memphis (back strain), is 9-1 for the Redbirds and leads their starting core with a 1.91 ERA in 13 starts.

Brian Walton’s take

Adam Wainwright (USA TODAY Sports Images)

In other words, Adam Wainwright has almost certainly passed all tests and is ready to return to the rotation, while Weaver has cemented his role as the team’s unofficial sixth starter. In the interim until Wainwright is activated off the 10-day disabled list, the Cardinals add another arm in the pen in Tuivailala, who has been up and down more times over the last four years than I can count.

When I say “another arm,” I mean the ninth active reliever. Tuivailala joins right-handers Trevor Rosenthal, Seung-hwan Oh, Matt Bowman and John Brebbia and the quartet of lefties – Brett Cecil, Zach Duke, Kevin Siegrist and Tyler Lyons. Meanwhile, the struggling offense has just four position player reserves, one of whom, reserve catcher Carson Kelly, will only be used in an emergency.

Of course, the most likely offensive addition, outfielder Harrison Bader, is not eligible to return to St. Louis yet, having been optioned out on Monday. The restriction is 10 days unless a roster opening is created due to injury or trade.

Still, the nine-reliever set up is likely only temporary. Whenever Wainwright is activated, another player will need to be removed from the 25-man roster.

As of now, the Cardinals scheduled starters for the weekend series in Cincinnati are Mike Leake, Lance Lynn and Carlos Martinez. Weaver’s spot would have been after Martinez, on Monday at Kansas City.

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