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Cards sticking with Leake in starting rotation

Right-hander has posted a 7.24 ERA over his last 9 starts
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Having considered their other options, the Cardinals are choosing to let Mike Leake retain his spot in the rotation and make his start, as scheduled, on Saturday.

"Whenever you take a moment in time and try to make a judgement on it, I think that's a little bit tough on a Major League player because you look at the first eight weeks of Mike Leake and arguably he was going to be an All-Star," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "The last month has obviously been a tough one for him. Hopefully he can right the ship."

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ST. LOUIS -- Having considered their other options, the Cardinals are choosing to let Mike Leake retain his spot in the rotation and make his start, as scheduled, on Saturday.

"Whenever you take a moment in time and try to make a judgement on it, I think that's a little bit tough on a Major League player because you look at the first eight weeks of Mike Leake and arguably he was going to be an All-Star," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "The last month has obviously been a tough one for him. Hopefully he can right the ship."

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Leake was one of the National League's top pitchers through the first two months of the season. He led all NL starters in ERA (1.91) three months ago. Since then, however, Leake has experienced a sharp decline.

Leake has pitched past the fifth inning just twice in his last nine starts and has a 7.24 ERA during that stretch. In a start on Sunday, Leake was knocked out after allowing six runs on eight hits in three innings.

"I think you're expecting him to come out every time and have his good stuff and make quality pitches," manager Mike Matheny said. "That's what he did early on, putting every pitch with the right kind of movement in the bottom of the zone."

Mozeliak added the club is confident that there is not a physical issue impeding Leake at this time.

New role for Alcantara
Mozeliak described the organization's decision to shift prospect Sandy Alcantara from the Double-A rotation to the bullpen as "a strategic move" designed to give the Cardinals the option of calling the hard-throwing right-hander up to the Majors once rosters expand in September.

Alcantara made his first relief appearance on Wednesday, pitching two scoreless innings. He's 7-5 with a 4.31 ERA, 1.427 WHIP, 104 strikeouts and 54 walks over 123 1/3 Double-A innings this season. But the numbers have improved for Alcantara, ranked as the club's No. 9 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, as the season has gone on.

Since the start of June, he has a 2.59 ERA and .233 opponents' batting average.

The Cardinals will have to add Alcantara to the 40-man roster this fall in order to protect him from December's Rule 5 Draft. That's why he's on a short list of candidates to be put on the roster next month.

Worth noting
• The Cardinals will hold their 2017 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday at FOX Sports Midwest Live! inside Ballpark Village. The ceremony is free and open to the public. Mark McGwire, Tim McCarver and Pepper Martin were selected for enshrinement as part of this fourth induction class. FOX Sports Midwest will televise the ceremony following the Cardinals' postgame show on Saturday.

Kevin Siegrist (left elbow tendinitis) began a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Palm Beach on Thursday, and he allowed one run, one hit and one walk in one inning. The Cardinals want him to pitch on back-to-back days before he returns from the 10-day disabled list.

• Mozeliak said the organization has been more aggressive putting in waiver claims this August than they have in the last several years. Nevertheless, the club has not been able to add anyone this month.

Matt Carpenter returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with an illness.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals