Cards pondering Leake's place in rotation

After starting fast, righty has a 5.78 ERA since May 21

August 22nd, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- Another abbreviated start by Mike Leake in the Little League Classic on Sunday has the Cardinals evaluating his place in the rotation and considering various pitching options for Saturday, which would be Leake's next scheduled start.

General manager Michael Girsch stressed that the Cardinals have not yet determined who will start that evening's game against Tampa Bay. But the fact that it is not guaranteed to be Leake represents a shift in the organization's view of the right-hander.

"All options are on the table," Girsch said. "We'll take the next few days to evaluate the options before announcing anything."

It's been a tale of two seasons for Leake, who led the National League with a 1.91 ERA on May 21. In 16 starts since then, his ERA has bloated to 5.78. Things have been especially troublesome since the All-Star break. He's been unable to pitch past the fifth inning in six of eight second-half starts and has allowed opponents to hit .365 with an .897 OPS.

"I think early on, he was very impressive with the hard, late movement and precision," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to and it was running both ways. He was doing whatever he wanted to with the baseball, whenever he wanted to do it."

In mid-July, Leake acknowledged fighting through fatigue and less-than-ideal strength, though he has downplayed that since. After allowing six runs over three innings on Sunday, he emphasized that he would prefer not to take any time off.

"I'll be against it if it happens," Leake added.

If the Cardinals choose to skip Leake when his turn comes back around, they'll likely have to dip into their Minor League depth for a replacement. Jack Flaherty, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect, is scheduled to start for Triple-A Memphis on Saturday. Flaherty has allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine starts.

Rosenthal gets second opinion

According to Girsch, orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache is reviewing the images and notes from 's recent exam with team physician George Paletta. The two doctors will collaborate to determine what the best next step will be for the Cardinals' closer, who was diagnosed with right posterior elbow irritation last week.

The organization is expected to have more clarity on that decision Wednesday. John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, previously stated that the next course of action could range from surgery to rest.

Siegrist to begin rehab assignment

Lefty reliever , who has been on the disabled list with left forearm tendinitis since Aug. 4, said he will travel to Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Palm Beach. If all goes as scheduled, Siegrist will then join the team sometime on its next road trip.

"I'm feeling good," Siegrist said after throwing a 30-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday. "It's not 100 percent; I can't say that. But I'm pretty close to being there."

Siegrist has thrown off the mound four times over the last eight days in an effort to regain arm strength. He has been placed on the DL twice within the last two months, first with a cervical spine sprain and more recently with the forearm injury. In 39 appearances for the Cardinals, Siegrist has a 4.98 ERA and 1.602 WHIP.