Mulder's Rehab Start - Mixed Results

The good news, Mark Mulder, the Cardinals #2 starter at one time retired 10 batters in a row Sunday, in his first rehab start. The bad news, he still may not be ready for Major League action.

St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitcher Mark Mulder made his first rehab start Sunday after being placed on the Disabled List on June 22 with inflammation in the rotator cuff of his left arm.

It was Mulder's first career start below the Triple-A level since he signed late after the A's made him the second overall pick in the 1998 draft.

Prior to being placed on the disabled list Mulder posted a 6-5 record and a 6.09 ERA this year St. Louis, due in large part to his attempt to pitch through the injury. He particularly struggled through his last five starts, in which he went 1-3 with a 13.50 ERA.

Pitching in a game Sunday for the first time since June 20, the 29 year old left-hander allowed two runs on two hits in five innings, to lead the Class-A Quad Cities Swing to a 5-2 win over the Clinton Lumberkings in front of the sold out home crowd at Davenport, Iowa.

Mulder struck out one batter on three fastballs and walked two, giving up just two hits, a second-inning double to John Mayberry and a fifth-inning home run by Carlos Dominguez. At one time, Mulder retired 10 batters in a row.

On the surface it appears Mulder has taken a significant step in making his way back to St. Louis, but there still may be some concern about him being ready to start without another rehab start or two.

Mulder relied mostly on his fast ball which was often missing low, which of course is better than missing high. The scuttlebutt here is, that the umpire was squeezing the strike zone on the major league pitcher, but in spite of that there is still some reason for concern.

Mulder's fastball was in the 84-87 MPH range and his off speed pitches were off the mark most of the night. The young batters at Class-A hit a lot of hard balls off his fast pitch, but fortunately for the Swing and Mark, they were hit right at the fielders.

On the disabled list with an impingement in his left shoulder and irritation and inflammation in his left shoulder cuff, Mulder is attempting to gain full extension of his shoulder on each pitch. He insists he is healthy and that he is just working on his mechanics.

We have video here showing that Mark's delivery is not as aggressive or as quick to the plate as it was in 2005. That may be causing him some problems on the mound with his timing and mechanics.

In my opinion Mulder needs another rehab start to work on his off speed pitches and to try to get his speed back up on his fastball.

The Cardinals official website reports that Mulder will likely throw Friday for Double-A Springfield or Triple-A Memphis and could join the rotation for the Reds series August 15-17 at Busch Stadium.

We have a conflicting report from a source inside the organization that is reporting that Mulder is expected to join the Cardinals on Monday in Cincinnati.

Mulder last major league start was on June 20th, when he allowed nine-earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings against the White Sox. While Marks start last night was a positive step on his road back to the Major Leagues, it wasn't a giant leap.

The Cardinals should send Mulder to Springfield or Memphis for at least one more rehab start or expect more of the same (a 6.09 ERA) when he returns to St. Louis.

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