8/17/2013 4:45 P.M. ET
Cards recall Lyons to bolster tired bullpen
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- A recently overworked bullpen received another fresh arm on Saturday, as the Cardinals added left-hander Tyler Lyons to the 25-man roster before an afternoon game against the Cubs. Lefty reliever Sam Freeman, who pitched 1 1/3 innings on Friday, was optioned to Triple-A Memphis in a corresponding move.
The plan to call up Lyons for the third time this season was put in motion while Jake Westbrook was struggling early in Friday's game. Scheduled to start for Memphis on Friday, Lyons found out about three hours before first pitch that he had been scratched. A few hours later, he received details about taking an early-morning flight to Chicago.
"I'm excited and just anxious to start pitching," Lyons said on Saturday. "I'm not too worried about what role it is exactly. Whenever I hear my name called, I'll be ready to pitch -- and hopefully go out there and do my job."
Lyons last appeared in relief in 2011, when he was pitching for high-A Palm Beach. That will be his role for now, though, as the Cardinals have been struggling to find sufficient rest for their relievers. In the four games played since the team's last off-day, the Cardinals' bullpen has had to cover 18 innings. Two extra-inning games inflated that count, but the Cardinals are also not receiving many quality starts from their rotation. Since the beginning of this 7-15 stretch, the Cardinals have just five starts of at least seven innings. Ten times, their starter hasn't even finished six. In order to try to offset fatigue, the Cards have had to dip down to the Minors regularly for pitching help.
"We've had some young guys do very well, but we have to have fresh arms keep coming in if we're going to keep pitching as much as we have," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's going to continue unless our starters can get us deep into games."
With Lyons' ability to give the Cardinals length out of the bullpen, Michael Wacha should be freed up to pitch in high-leverage spots again. Since moving Joe Kelly to the rotation last month, the Cards have not had a true long reliever in their bullpen.
Lyons is 2-4 with a 5.35 ERA in his seven starts with the Cardinals this season. Since being summoned to pitch in the second game of the Cards' doubleheader on July 30, Lyons has only pitched twice with Memphis. He last pitched on Aug. 10.
"Obviously, for me, I'm not going to worry too much about that," said Lyons, when asked about his expected length of stay this time. "I just want to worry about pitching, and hopefully I find a way to get comfortable doing whatever role it is I'm doing."
Matheny keeping Westbrook in Cardinals' rotation
CHICAGO -- A day after Jake Westbrook was roughed up in a loss to the Cubs, manager Mike Matheny announced that the veteran right-hander will make his next start as scheduled. That means Westbrook will take the mound in Wednesday's series finale in Milwaukee.
Chicago scored seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and five walks off Westbrook on Friday. The results were more of the norm than an anomaly for Westbrook, who has had a run of four straight poor outings. He has a 10.13 ERA and more walks (15) than strikeouts (10) over those 21 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .333 off him during that stretch, and 15 of the runs have been scored in his first inning of work.
"It's a little bizarre with the first-inning stuff, then he's so effective after that," Matheny said. "I know it's frustrating to him and baffling to us on how to put that all together. He said, physically, he feels good -- and if he can get past that first inning, he looks good."
Had the Cardinals wanted to make a change, they could have swapped Westbrook with Michael Wacha, a starter turned temporary reliever, who is on the Major League roster. In his five Major League appearances (four starts), Wacha has allowed 11 earned runs on 22 hits and seven walks in 24 2/3 innings. He has 22 strikeouts.
Though Westbrook's struggles have been particularly glaring since late July, the righty has not pitched all that well since returning from the disabled list in June. He has a 5.86 ERA in 12 games since sitting with an elbow injury. In those 70 2/3 innings, Westbrook has walked 30 and struck out 23.
"I think it's just a matter of controlling counts," Westbrook said. "When I make a mistake, it's getting hit. I'm not putting myself in a good position to succeed. It's really cost me."
• With left-hander Travis Wood starting for the Cubs, third baseman David Freese returned to the lineup on Saturday. Catcher Yadier Molina was back behind the plate, as well, for his second start since coming off the disabled list with a right knee sprain.
• Left-hander Marco Gonzales, whom the Cardinals selected with the 19th overall pick in the June First-Year Player Draft, made his third start for Palm Beach on Thursday. The only hit Gonzales allowed in the five-inning outing was a solo homer. He walked one and struck out four. Since being promoted to the Florida State League, Gonzales has given up three earned runs in 12 innings.
• Pitching in relief for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals on Friday, Rob Kaminsky, the Cardinals' other first-round pick in the 2013 Draft, took the loss. Kaminsky allowed three earned runs on two walks and one hit in four innings. He had allowed just one earned run in his first six appearances (14 innings).
• After taking the Cubs' request to review a call in last Sunday's game, Major League Baseball has taken an error away from Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday. Cubs outfielder Junior Lake was credited with an RBI double in the third inning of that game. As a result of the change, Cardinals starter Joe Kelly was charged with an additional earned run.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.