Martínez to make 1st start since 2018

July 26th, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- will start the Cardinals’ first road game of the season Tuesday against the Twins, setting up Miles Mikolas to start Wednesday’s game.

Tuesday will be almost two years to the day since Martínez last started for the Cardinals. He pitched 4 2/3 innings against the Rockies on July 30, 2018, before going on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort, then coming back in a relief role for St. Louis. Martínez stayed in the bullpen all of last season to help regain his health. During the offseason, he was determined to get back to a starter’s workload and impressed the Cardinals with his commitment and the arm strength he built up this winter and during the shutdown. The club named the two-time All-Star to the rotation in the final week of Summer Camp.

Martínez threw a bullpen session Saturday at Busch Stadium. In Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Royals, Martínez threw four innings and allowed just one run on two hits. Mikolas started the game and allowed two runs in four innings while striking out four.

First pitch for Tuesday's game is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT, and the action will be live on MLB.TV.

Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson are in line to pitch next weekend’s three-game series in Milwaukee.

Taxi squad set
The Cardinals will bring along infielder Max Schrock and right-hander Jake Woodford on next week’s road trip as the team’s taxi squad. Teams are permitted a three-player taxi squad for every road trip, giving them immediate options to replace an injured or COVID-19 infected player. The goal of bringing them on the trip is to avoid putting a player on a commercial flight if an injury occurs.

“They’ve both been in the system, been in multiple big league camps, so they’re familiar with how we do things and how we like to operate and how we think,” manager Mike Shildt said. “You hope that they [first of all] stay ready and sharp in case they get called upon to perform. And then just continue to grow. See the game, study the game, talk to players. Just stay sharp and observe and try to grow from your experience.”

If a team carries three players on its taxi squad, one must be a catcher. Because the Cardinals have catcher Andrew Knizner on their 30-man roster to back up Yadier Molina, they elected only to bring two players along. When rosters shrink to 28 and then 26 players, Knizner could be added to the taxi squad.

Taxi squad players are permitted to work out with the team on the road, but they can’t dress for the game. If the Cardinals had a catcher on the taxi squad, he would be permitted to be in the bullpen. They won’t be paid an MLB salary or accrue service time, but they will receive the Major League allowance of $108.50 per day along with their Minor League salary.

Gallegos strong in live BP
Giovanny Gallegos threw his second live batting practice Saturday at Busch Stadium, taking another step forward toward becoming available on the roster. Saturday’s live BP was more consistent than Thursday’s, Shildt said, and based on how Gallegos responds, the Cardinals hope he can be available in the coming days. St. Louis has 29 players on its roster, leaving that last spot open for Gallegos to fill.

“He was really sharp,” Shildt said. “Feel like he’s pretty much where he needs to be. Hitters had the right kind of feedback, said the ball was coming out good. Stuff looked sharp, crisp. He was a little more consistent with his command today than a couple days ago. So if he recovers well, we should expect to see him ready to go in our bullpen.”

Cardinals sign USC lefty
The Cardinals announced they agreed to terms with University of Southern California left-hander John Beller as a non-drafted free agent on Saturday. The Hermosa Beach, Calif., native had a 2.86 ERA in three years with the Trojans, seeing time in both the bullpen and rotation. He made 11 starts and 38 appearances in those three years, striking out 125 in 122 2/3 innings. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Beller made two starts in four appearances with a 1.12 ERA. He struck out 25 batters in 24 innings.

After the shortened five-round MLB Draft in June, the Cardinals can continue to sign non-drafted free agents until those players begin their next season. So far, they’ve added nine prospects through free agency.

Molina milestones
In Friday’s season opener, Molina (16,327 2/3 innings) passed A.J. Pierzynski in career innings caught for sixth all-time in MLB history. With two more appearances at catcher, Molina will reach 1,950 games and tie Tony Pena for sixth all-time in MLB history. The 38-year-old catcher started his 16th consecutive Opening Day, a new record for a catcher with a single team.