Gomber heating up on the hill for Redbirds

Gomber heating up on the hill for Redbirds

The Memphis southpaw is gaining attention from the Cardinals as he tries to find a spot in a muddled rotation

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If the plan of the St. Louis Cardinals is to use Austin Gomber as a left handed long relief specialist, nobody has told him yet.

Following a career best and franchise record tying 16 strikeout performance on April 23 against Iowa, the 24 year-old lefty was called up to St. Louis on April 29, but wound up being unused in the bullpen and sent back to Memphis on May 4.

The parent club has been in need of some relief and only have one lefty in the bullpen since Ryan Sheriff fractured his toe. And since there doesn’t seem to be a spot available in the starting rotation now or anytime in the future, Gomber’s best chances of a return visit to St. Louis may lie in the bullpen.

“Nobody has said anything to me about that,” Gomber said. ‘Obviously I would be interested in doing whatever I can to be in the big leagues regardless of whether I come out of the bullpen or start. It’s not something that has been brought up to me from them. Right now I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team win.”

The No. 14 prospect returned to form on Monday earning his third win of the season in a 2-1 win over Oklahoma City.

Gomber pitched eight innings allowing six hits and only one run while walking two and striking out nine.

It was the lefty’s best outing since his 16 strikeout performance. Gomber suffered three straight losses in a row, losing to Nashville on May 5, Oklahoma City on May 10, and Nashville again on May 15 in which he allowed 14 runs in 15 1/3 innings of work.

The win evened his record at 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA.

Gomber has struck out 57 batters in 49 innings.

“I had good stuff and was able to have a good start,” Gomber said. “Overall I think I am pitching well. I had a rough couple of starts the last two or three times out. But other than that I think I am throwing the ball well and just trying to prove that I am ready whenever they need me.”

His 16 strikeouts tied a franchise record set by Lance Lynn in a 2010 playoff game. Gomber allowed six hits over eight scoreless innings and fired 85 of 112 pitches for strikes — a feat achieved only 19 times since 1963 by a Major League Pitcher. Gomber’s previous best was 11 K’s last August 31 for Double-A Springfield in a game against Arkansas.

Ironically, Gomber almost was in danger of being sent to the showers early.

In the first inning he hit a batter then allowed two singles to load the bases.

He escaped the based loaded jam with a strikeout and then a double play. He then threw seven dominant innings where he retired the next 15 batters in order — 11 by strikeout.

“It was a good start — better than most for sure” Gomber said. “But I really didn’t feel like I did anything different than what I try to do any other time out there.”

Although he didn’t get a chance to pitch for the Cardinals, Gomber said getting called up was still a dream come true and he continues to focus on winning games in Memphis and being ready if the call should come again.

“I don’t know that I expect another call up,” Gomber said. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to get to pitch and hopefully I will end up there at some point. It was definitely exciting. It’s a different level — different level stadium, different level crowds. That’s the easiest way I can describe it. It’s really like nothing you have ever done before. I’m proud I got to be there. But it’s in the past now is how I am looking at it. I’m just trying to focus on what I am doing here and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting back up there.”

By Mark Randall

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