Nate Robertson: A Very Well-Paid Reliever

Moved from the rotation to the bullpen, what might the next step for Memphis left-hander Nate Robertson be?

As Memphis opens an important four-game series at Omaha Saturday night, a team that is one game ahead of them in the tight Pacific Coast League American North Division standings, Redbirds manager Chris Maloney is giving the ball to swingman Oneli Perez instead of veteran left-hander Nate Robertson.

Robertson last started on August 16 against Colorado Springs and in his three starts, the 32-year-old's ERA is 10.13. He moved to the bullpen and tossed one scoreless inning of relief on Thursday which lowered his Redbirds ERA to 9.53. Robertson has fanned 10, walked five and yielded five opposing home runs in 17 innings since joining the Cardinals system.

Robertson signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals on August 2 after he had been released by the Florida Marlins. In 2010, he is making $10 million, paid by Detroit. It is the final year of a three-year, $21.5 million contract he signed with the Tigers prior to the 2008 campaign.

Robertson has an out clause in his Cardinals deal if he is not in the majors by this coming Monday, August 23. With such poor results, one would have to assume his odds are very low - except for the uncertainties in St. Louis, that is.

Inconsistent for much of the season, Cardinals lefty Dennys Reyes is currently being held out of action due to an elbow strain. Reyes has pitched just once since August 3 and only 6 2/3 innings since the All-Star break but has not yet been placed onto the disabled list. The 33-year-old told the media he was injured last Sunday against the Cubs so his lack of use prior to that was presumably not medical driven.

Reyes was put through a light workout prior to Friday's game, but reportedly is not likely to pitch in the current home series against the Giants. He was also held out of the Milwaukee series earlier this week.

It would seem there are three potential paths for Robertson – opt out of his contract and get paid to go home, remain pitching for the Redbirds or receive the call to St. Louis.

A variation on the latter two themes would be for Robertson to be included among the September call-ups when rosters expand and Memphis' season is over. As of now, Robertson is not on the 40-man roster so another move would be required to accommodate him.

Keep an eye on the situation with both Reyes and Robertson in the upcoming days.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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