On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals made a strong move to help shore up their beleaguered starting rotation, worst in the National League in terms of ERA, by acquiring left-handed pitcher Mike Maroth from the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers will select a player to be named later in return compensation. Maroth is likely to make his Cardinals debut in a start sometime during next week’s four-game series at New York. He will become the only left-hander in the Cardinals rotation, as Mark Mulder remains on the disabled list following 2006 shoulder surgery.
Maroth, 29, was 5-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 starts for the Tigers this year as he continues to work his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow last June that limited his 2006 season to 13 appearances. He started four games for Triple-A Toledo on a rehabilitation assignment last August, and appeared in four games out of the bullpen for the Tigers in September, but was not on the Tigers roster for any postseason series, including the 2006 World Series.
Maroth, rumored to have been the subject of Cardinals trade interest in the past, likely became available due to the emergence of rookie phenom Andrew Miller as well as this weekend’s return of veteran starter Kenny Rogers from the disabled list.
The Cardinals were understandably happy with their new acquisition.
“Mike is a young pitcher who we feel is only going to get stronger as he continues his recovery from last season’s surgery,” said Cardinals Senior Vice President and General Manager Walt Jocketty. “He is an established starter who is going to provide us with innings and help take pressure off of our bullpen. We think the change in leagues will also benefit Mike.”
Maroth won each of his last two decisions for the Tigers, most recently on Monday (June 18) at Washington when he tossed 5.0 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits while walking two and fanning four in the 9-8 Tigers win. He limited opponents to a .240 batting average (18-for-75) this season with runners in scoring position.
Maroth has appeared in 147 career games (143 starts) over his six-year Major League career and owns a 50-62 record and lifetime 4.81 ERA. He was one of only 13 southpaw hurlers in Tigers history to record 50 wins. For his career, he is 5-7 with a 3.75 ERA in 18 starts vs. National League teams.
The lefty is making $2.95 million this season in the second year of a two-year contract signed with the Tigers. Maroth is arbitration-eligible, but can be controlled by the Cardinals next season if they choose. He may become a free-agent for the first time following the 2008 campaign.
Maroth will take the roster spot of left-handed relief pitcher Tyler Johnson. It was originally announced that Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Tuesday, June 19.
However, with Maroth not reporting until Monday, when he may be starting for the Cardinals against the Mets, the team delayed the move on Johnson. As long as Tyler doesn't pitch over the weekend, the June 19 retro transaction can still be executed on Monday. Johnson is suffering from left biceps tendinitis.
The Cardinals already had a second lefty in their bullpen, as rookie Troy Cate had been called up from Triple-A Memphis on Monday to join Randy Flores as the Cards' southpaw relief options.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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