CHICAGO -- Their pitching plans complicated by a doubleheader and injury to Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals will open their next series against the Reds behind two pitchers making their first Major League starts. Right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon will get the nod on Monday and lefty Austin Gomber on Tuesday at Great
CHICAGO -- Their pitching plans complicated by a doubleheader and injury to Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals will open their next series against the Reds behind two pitchers making their first Major League starts. Right-hander Daniel Poncedeleon will get the nod on Monday and lefty Austin Gomber on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
For Poncedeleon, the appearance will mark his big league debut. It will also complete an incredible 14-month comeback from a life-threatening brain injury suffered when he was struck by a line drive in a Triple-A game. Poncedeleon returned to the Memphis rotation this season and has emerged as one of the Pacific Coast League's best. His 2.15 ERA and 103 strikeouts each rank second best in the league.
Poncedeleon did earn a callup by the Cardinals earlier this season, but he did not appear in a game.
"Talk about a comeback story," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. "We're in the process of one here, so it's only fitting that maybe he's a part of that. But independently of that, it's pretty special. ... It's a good story. It's a great story, actually."
Gomber made 15 relief appearances for the Cardinals this season before being sent back to Memphis under the instruction to build back the arm strength necessary to start. In three starts since that return, Gomber allowed four earned runs over 13 1/3 innings. He will be the first lefty to start a game for the Cardinals this season, and the timing is ideal with the Cards about to face a Reds lineup laced with lefties.
Gomber threw 80 pitches in his most recent start for Memphis, and Shildt said that should be enough for Gomber to be uninhibited in his pitch count on Tuesday.
One of these two spot starters would be in line to make a second start should the Cardinals need to skip Martinez (right oblique strain) when their rotation turns over again. As it is, the organization remains optimistic that Martinez's stay on the 10-day disabled list will be short.
The Cardinals did consider Dakota Hudson for a promotion before settling on Poncedeleon and Gomber. With the latter two already on the 40-man roster, the transactions are simpler. Hudson is 13-2 with a 2.36 ERA as a Triple-A starter.
"I think it's more of a tip of the hat to Ponce than it is any other message to Dakota except for to continue to do what you're doing and clearly he's on the right track with what he's doing," Shildt said. "It's Ponce's opportunity right now."
The Cardinals will have to clear spots on the 25-man roster for both pitchers. They're likely to do so again later in the week to recall starter Luke Weaver, as well. In what was essentially a paper move, the Cardinals returned Weaver to Triple-A on Sunday after using him as their 26th man in Saturday's doubleheader.
Hand over the salsa
As word of Matt Carpenter's homemade salsa spreads, demand for a spoonful of it has taken off. Carpenter jokingly credited his secret salsa recipe for his recent offensive tear, which includes a franchise-record six straight games with a home run. Now, others want a bite.
Bud Norris shared a picture of him holding a jar of the salsa on Saturday after notching his 18th save. William Fowler dug into a jar on Sunday and promptly singled off a lefty in his first at-bat. Carpenter wasn't about to test fate, either. He doused his breakfast with the not-too-chunky-somewhat-sweet salsa he made from plants in his garden.
"Pass it around," remarked Shildt, who was still waiting for his sample. "Yeah, I'm all in for salsa."
Even the Cubs, who have watched Carpenter hit as many homers in this series (six) as Anthony Rizzo and Kristopher Bryant have individually hit at Wrigley Field all year, were envious.
"Salsa," said manager Joe Maddon. "Listen, that makes total sense to me, no doubt. Could he send a jar over here?"
On the mend
• Sidelined by illness and dizziness on Saturday, infielder Jedd Gyorko reported to Wrigley Field on Sunday feeling much improved. The Cardinals were hopeful he'd be available off the bench in the series finale.
"We'll continue to take his temperature, maybe literally, as the day goes," Shildt said. "But he just was in a better spot today."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.