Cardinals go with Lyons over Martinez for Monday start

Stan McNeal provides a pitcher-by-pitcher update on current state of the Cards' hurlers

ST. LOUIS -- Left-hander Tyler Lyons will start Monday against the Reds, Carlos Martinez has returned from the minors to work out of the bullpen and Jake Westbrook has gone on the disabled list because of back stiffness.

Oh yeah, Edward Mujica says the soreness in his back right shoulder is better but not good enough for him to pitch Friday night when the Cardinals play host to the Braves.

Just another day in the constantly changing world of the Cardinals' pitching staff.

A pitcher-by-pitcher update:

-- Lyons was tabbed to start in the opener of the Reds' series because the club "likes where he is right now," manager Mike Matheny said.

Of course, that the Reds' lineup leans heavily towards lefty hitters "definitely plays into" the decision as well, Matheny admitted.

"More important, he's a guy who's been consistent through the season," Matheny said. "We've seen a couple of really nice starts from him. Hopefully, we can get a few more."

Lyons, 25, worked two scoreless innings Wednesday at Milwaukee after he was called up last weekend. In a start against the Reds June 8, he lasted into the sixth and was charged with four runs. He has pitched well at Memphis lately, with a 5-1 record and 3.03 ERA in his past 10 starts.

-- Martinez also was a candidate to make the Monday start against the Reds but was passed over for Lyons. In a start against the Dodgers earlier this month, Martinez reached 100 mph with his fastball but ran up an elevated pitch count early and did not last five innings. He also had been roughed up in his most recent start for Memphis.

Still, the Cardinals like the way his fastball can play out of the bullpen.

"He's a power arm that we can throw late in the game if we have to and just hope to out-stuff the opposition," Matheny said. "He's a guy that's stretched out that we could use in long (relief) if we needed to. He gives us some versatility."

-- Westbrook, 35, said he has been dealing with tightness in his lower back for some time. Though he said he would not use his ailments as an excuse, he clearly hasn't been right for some time. He has given up at least four runs in his past five outings and only once has been able to pitch past the fifth inning.

"Really more just kind of aggravating," he said. "It's one of those things that I've been fighting through. Just part of being old, I guess."

His chances of pitching again for the Cardinals are less than certain. He is in the final weeks of a one-year extension and the Cardinals would seem more likely to buy out a $1 million mutual option for 2014 rather than bring him back for $9.5 million.

Westbrook said he hopes rest and treatment will calm down the soreness and allow him to return sooner rather than later.

"It's always a grind," he said "I've been throwing through something for the last couple of years but I try to battle through it. I have no excuses. I never make any and I never will. I just haven't been pitching very well."

-- Mujica warmed up during batting practice Friday and afterward said he would be given another day before pitching again. With him unavailable Thursday night, the Cardinals turned to rookie Trevor Rosenthal to finish a 6-2 victory.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at

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