On a weekend that should serve as the first leg of the stretch run that will decide the National League Central, the Cardinals will throw their two newest arms right into the race.
Justin Masterson, acquired Wednesday from the Cleveland Indians, will start Saturday. John Lackey, acquired from Boston on Thursday, will take the ball Sunday as the Cardinals try to wrestle first place away from the visiting Brewers.
The Cardinals enter play two games back of Milwaukee. In inserting Masterson and Lackey into the rotation this weekend, the team pushes Lance Lynn back a day. He will get the ball Tuesday.
"A lot of it has to do with two guys being ready," manager Mike Matheny said. "It would be pushing Lackey pretty far, a day further than it would Lance. We've worked Lance pretty hard. With his pitch counts over his last several starts, I don't think it's going to hurt him."
The arrangement takes away the possibility of Lackey making his Cardinals' debut against his former club, the Red Sox, who come to St. Louis for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
"You always take into account that he'll have to pitch against his former team," Matheny said. "Not that that's much of a hindrance, but we have an opportunity to throw him in there as quickly as we can and get him acclimated."
Cards demote Martinez, bring back Robinson
The Cardinals' first bit of business after playing with a 23-man roster for Thursday's win at San Diego was to demote a pitcher, add a hitter and clear space for the two newcomers who joined the team Friday.
They did all that with a series of moves Friday afternoon.
Carlos Martinez, who was clearly leaving the team for Memphis after Thursday's game, was officially optioned to the Class AAA roster this afternoon. He'll go there to get innings and then slingshot back to the majors when there is an opening or September arrives, whichever happens first.
Martinez, 22, was 2-4 with a 4.74 ERA in 38 games with the Cardinals. He made seven starts and logged 68.1 innings, allowing 71 hits and walking 31 batters but also striking out 64.
The Cardinals also promoted, again, outfielder Shane Robinson, who has been this year's yo-yo player. This will be his fourth time up with the Cardinals, although none of the previous visits have been productive. In 31 games at the big-league level in 2014, Robinson batted .140 with two RBIs.
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