Cardinals promote Cleto, Browning from Minors
Freeman, Sanchez optioned to Triple-A; McClellan transferred to 60-day DL
ST. LOUIS -- In an effort to find better late-inning stability, the Cardinals shuffled their bullpen before Saturday's game against the Pirates.
Right-hander Maikel Cleto and lefty Barret Browning were promoted from Triple-A Memphis, which will, in turn, add Sam Freeman and Eduardo Sanchez back to its roster. Freeman and Sanchez were optioned after enduring their share of struggles at the Major League level.
"We need to keep moving forward and make adjustments as we go," manager Mike Matheny said. "Just all in all, it was time to make a move."
The move was prompted by another collectively poor night from the Cardinals' bullpen, which, after allowing seven earned runs in a 14-5 loss on Friday, has an ERA of 4.67.
Sanchez gave up two of those runs on three hits in one inning. Command issues left Sanchez largely unreliable, particularly during recent weeks. Over his last 4 1/3 innings, Sanchez gave up seven hits and eight earned runs. He walked six.
"We've seen some good ones and we've really seen some struggles," Matheny said. "You have to be able to get more than one pitch over for a strike. We've seen spots of that. We just need to see it on a more consistent basis."
Freeman's problems weren't so pronounced, though he, too, endured a sometimes rocky learning curve. The Cardinals had expedited his climb to the Majors because of their need for a lefty reliever. In 12 innings, Freeman was charged with 10 hits, eight earned runs and seven walks.
Among the directives the Cards gave Freeman on his way out was to continue quickening his time to the plate while maintaining a consistent arm slot.
"I think it was a very productive stint for him," Matheny said. "I think every day he had here in the big leagues is something that's going to benefit in the long run."
Sanchez and Freeman were two of four relievers who had an ERA of at least 6.00 by the end of Friday's game. Also in that group are Fernando Salas (6.04) and Marc Rzepczynski (6.00), both of whom entered the season projected to hold key setup roles.
This marks Cleto's second stint with St. Louis this season. In four previous appearances, Cleto allowed three earned runs on nine hits in five innings. Since being sent back down to Memphis, Cleto -- who is ranked No. 10 among Cardinals prospects -- has limited opponents to one earned run and three hits in six innings.
Browning's first appearance with the Cardinals will also be his Major League debut. Taken in the Minor League portion of last December's Rule 5 Draft, Browning has a 1.89 ERA in 30 appearances for Memphis. He has kept opponents to a .192 batting average.
The Cardinals transferred injured reliever Kyle McClellan to the 60-day disabled list to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Browning. McClellan, who has been on the 15-day DL since May 18 with a right elbow strain, is not expected to return until August.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.