Game six was a game of frustration for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series. They stranded 9 runners through the seventh inning. The pitcher was mostly responsible for this incompetence was John Lackey, and now he will be a part of the rotation for the stretch run and beyond.
According to Peter Gammons, the Cardinals are sending a huge part of their recent success in order to bolster their struggling rotation.
Sox get Kelly, Craig for Lackey
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 31, 2014
The Cardinals have seemingly sold the near future for the nearer future, but if you dig deeper you find something different.
For this season, the Cardinals are giving a boost to the middle part of the rotation that has struggled since Michael Wacha went on the disabled list. Since Wacha hit the DL, the Cardinals have had the fewest innings by their starters even with Adam Wainwright averaging 7 innings per start. With Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Joe Kelly all struggling to get through 5 innings every start, Lackey should give the innings they need.
Offensively, this trade sends a strong message to manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals have made it very clear with the trade of Allen Craig that Oscar Taveras will be the right fielder for the Cardinals down the stretch. Craig and Taveras have combined for the second worst right field production in baseball. The Cardinals’ right fielders have combined for a .221 batting average(second worst) , 24 extra base hits (second worst), .268 on-base percentage (worst) and .314 slugging percentage (worst).
In the further future the Cardinals have cleared some space as well. Kelly profiled as the back-end of the rotation starter, and would have blocked Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller and other starting pitching prospects. You can never have too much starting pitching, but the Cardinals were getting close and this trade adds depth now, but also clears up space in the rotation in the future.
Now that the Cardinals have four inning-eaters (when Justin Masterson is healthy) in their rotation the Cardinals look like a team that can weather the storm of injuries to Wacha and Yadier Molina this year, and if they resign Lackey (for the league minimum due to an injury clause) and/or Masterson, their rotation would likely be the best in the division.
If this trade happened last year, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak would have been drug tested. This year, it still looks like a bit of a stretch by the Cardinals on the surface, but it really helps them clear up some space and makes the future much clearer.