The Cardinals Have Rotation Options For 2013

ST. LOUIS — As a reward for turning his first year as a starter into an All-Star Game invite and a team-high 18 wins, the Cardinals have something planned this spring training for Lance Lynn: challengers for his spot in the rotation.

With Kyle Lohse's expected departure via free agency, the Cardinals plan to open that spot in the rotation and give the next generation of starters a crack at the vacancy. That will pit Lynn, who will be 25 in spring training, against three righthanders who spent part of their 2012 seasons in Triple-A: Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller, the team's top pitching prospect.

The Cardinals see it as more than a competition. It's a validation.

"To have these guys step up and do what they did shows us a lot of this isn't all smoke and mirrors when we talk about what we have in the minor leagues," general manager John Mozeliak told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch during the postseason. "You never have enough pitching, but I do think from our end a lot of it has crystallized in terms of exactly what we have."

The Cardinals see a rising class of pitchers in their farm system unlike anything they've had in at least two decades. Miller, who pitched well enough to earn a spot in the postseason bullpen, is the top pitching prospect for the Cardinals since Rick Ankiel. Rosenthal delighted radar guns with his 101 mph fastballs and consistent power in a relief role. All Kelly did was go 4-6, 3.74 with seven consecutive starts in the majors as a sub for Jaime Garcia. All three could be assets in the bullpen if they're unable to dislodge Lynn from his spot in the rotation.

"We're going to have too many guys, guys who have already proven themselves in the minors," Chris Carpenter said. "There could be four guys for one spot and all four deserve it."


• Although he was selected for the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game, lefty Sam Freeman was unable to participate. He was shut down with biceps tendinitis and has been to asked to get ready for spring training.

• The Cardinals began their 40-man roster fine-tuning by adding righty Jorge Rondon, a reliever who reached Triple-A in 2012. Overall, Rondon went 2-2, 3.49 in 46 games as a set-up man and struck out 50 in 49 innings. He touched 100 mph with his fastball.