John Gant gave the Cardinals everything he had last night to secure win number 10,000 in franchise history. Heading into the game though, many “experts” were criticizing the Cardinals for not calling up AAA Memphis starter Dakota Hudson.
Hudson has been great in the month of June, going 4-0 in four starts with 28 IP and a 0.64 ERA. In that same timeframe, he’s posted a 19/9 K/BB with opponents hitting .212 against him which translates to a 1.11 WHIP. Overall for the season, he’s 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA with 88 1/3 IP. He’s posted a 67/32 K/BB ratio with opponents hitting .248 against him and a 1.30 WHIP. What’s not to like right?
Gant has been back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis all season long. He’s primarily been a long reliever/spot starter for the Cardinals and has shown mixed results so far this season. Gant has posted a 3.48 ERA in 9 different appearances (4 starts) over 33 2/3 IP. He’s posted a 32/14 K/BB with opponents hitting .192 and a 1.129 WHIP.
In Gant’s four starts, the Cardinals have scored more than 4 runs just once (6-7 L vs PHI May 19). In the loss to the Phillies, Gant didn’t pitch as bad as his line might indicate. Two defensive miscues on Jed Gyorko extended innings and caused three unearned runs to be charged against Gant. This caused Gant to be removed after 4 1/3 IP and for Brett Cecil to get him out of the inning. Why bring this game up? It’s an example of Gant being thrown in for a spot start without his typical throwing schedule. Yes, he’s been up and down before, but it’s something players sometimes struggle to adjust to at the MLB level. That being said, his current stats really don’t lead one to say that he is “struggling”. Could he be better? Absolutely. Gant was critical of his five walks in his start last night, which was good to hear him discuss. It shows that he’s not just happy with the result, and I think he deserves another start or two.
Let’s not forget that at AAA Memphis this season, Gant has performed even better than Hudson. In eight starts, Gant has 49 IP with a 1.65 ERA. He’s posted a 42/16 K/BB with opponents hitting .243 and a 1.24 WHIP.
It’s understandable for fans to get excited about a young pitcher that is performing well at the AAA level. That being said, from a roster construction standpoint, going with Gant was a no-brainer for the front office. The Cardinals 40-man roster currently sits full at 40 players. Adding Dakota Hudson to the 40-man would force the Cardinals to make a move. This raises two questions. Why is Alex Reyes on the 10-day DL? Who would you waive to make room for Hudson? At this point, it appears the Cardinals are saving the extra spot that would be available by transferring Reyes to the 60-day DL. The main reason you would do this is because you feel like you are already covered on your 25-man roster with players on your 40-man. If the Cardinals were to acquire a player outside of the organization, this would allow them to do so without having to waive a player on their 40-man roster if they had called Hudson up like so many had wanted them to do.
Dakota Hudson will pitch for the Cardinals at some point this season. Most likely as a September call up, but is that really a bad thing? A full season of pitching at the AAA level will be good for Hudson’s development, much like it was for many of the other Cardinals pitching prospects. Hudson has a lot to work on still in the minor leagues, but if he can continue to build on his June performance it looks like he will be another young arm that the Cardinals can count on in the future.