Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals are riding a hot streak to open the season and one of baseball’s best teams could get even better in a matter of weeks. Pitcher Carlos Martinez is nearing a return, though in a very different role.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Martinez is set to make his first rehab start on Sunday with Low-A Peoria.

The role: Martinez will make his 2019 debut coming out of the bullpen, which could signal the role he will have when he is cleared by the Cardinals.

  • The 27-year-old is recovering from a strained right rotator cuff that sidelined him for much of the spring and through all of April.
  • He posted a 3.11 ERA and 1.35 WHIP across 118.2 innings, though only 18 of his 33 appearances were starts in 2018.

Martinez’s return to the pitching staff in St. Louis, specifically out of the bullpen, will only make the team’s improving group stronger.

His ability to miss bats and serve in a multi-inning role could take a bullpen with the league’s eighth-best ERA (3.54) into one of the five best in the majors.

Pair that with a strong lineup and a reliable rotation, it all makes for a World Series contender.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick