All of the injuries to Tony La Russa’s pitching staff have brought plenty of indecision for the St. Louis Cardinals manager, even with game time just a few hours away.
Instead of sending Kip Wells to the mound as expected, La Russa will start Brad Thompson on short rest Tuesday when the Cardinals continue a three-game series against the improving Kansas City Royals.
St. Louis (30-37) was forced to put another starting pitcher on the disabled list Monday with Braden Looper suffering from a strained right shoulder.
Looper moved to the rotation this year after spending his first nine seasons as a reliever. He has already pitched 83 innings after throwing just 73 1/3 last season.
Those injuries have forced La Russa to juggle his rotation, pushing relievers Todd Wellmeyer and Thompson into starting roles. La Russa planned to start Wells in this game despite admitting Monday he would have liked to move him to the bullpen for a short time.
Apparently La Russa felt it was necessary to allow the struggling starter to regroup mentally by temporarily keeping him in a relief role, and pushed Wells’ next start back to Sunday against Philadelphia. Wells leads the majors with 11 losses and has posted a 6.93 ERA.
Thompson (4-2, 5.28) just pitched in relief Saturday, giving up three hits and no walks in two scoreless innings of a 15-6 victory at Oakland. His previous seven appearances were all as a starter and he mostly struggled, going 3-2 with a 5.80 ERA.
The most recent of those starts came at Kansas City last Tuesday, when he was ripped for eight runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-1 defeat.
The Royals continued their improved play with a 5-3 victory in Monday’s series opener, as Odalis Perez won for only the second time in 10 starts.
A victory in one of the next two games would give Kansas City four straight series wins for the first time since June 13-26, 2003.
“The team hasn’t thought about it, and I didn’t even know about it,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
St. Louis’ offense was held mainly in check Monday after scoring 25 runs in its last two games at Oakland.
The Cardinals, losers of four of five at home, are 4-9 against the AL.
Elarton looks to rebound from his worst start of the season. He lasted only two-plus innings Thursday, yielding six runs and five hits with three walks, but Kansas City beat Wells and the Cardinals. Elarton has allowed four runs or more in six straight starts while pitching more than five innings only twice in that span.
Elarton is 3-3 with a 6.43 ERA in seven career starts against St. Louis, giving up 18 runs over 11 2-3 innings in the last three.