The St. Louis Cardinals have their first game of the 2020 season exactly two weeks from Friday. As of right now, what do we think the roster will look like?
It seems too hard to believe, but two weeks from Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals will hopefully beginning their 2020 season against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.
As tantalizing as that idea is, there is a ton that could happen in the next two weeks that could derail that dream. We still have to act like the season is going happen though for now.
If you don’t know or have forgotten, the Cardinals will start the year with a full 30 players on the active roster. This is mostly to lighten the load on each pitcher as most starters won’t be able to go more than 3-4 innings right off the bat. After two weeks, the roster drops to 28 players, then to the normal 26 after another two weeks.
When looking at this first 30-man roster, it doesn’t make any more sense to add much more than the normal 13 position players. With the DH, it makes sense to put 14 position players so the team can still have a five-man bench plus the nine starters. Beyond that, expect the other 16 spots to go to pitchers. So, let’s predict who I believe will make that first 30-man roster.
Position Players (14)
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters
Infield: Matt Carpenter, Paul Goldschmidt, Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, Brad Miller, Rangel Ravelo
Outfield: Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Lane Thomas, Dylan Carlson
There aren’t too many surprises here, but there is plenty to debate. On the infield, the starters are more or less set everywhere except third base. Whether it’s going to be Matt Carpenter or Tommy Edman regularly at DH isn’t a huge thing to worry about, both will be in the lineup plenty with the DH in play.
In the outfield, I’d expect the starting outfield on opening day will be those first three. O’Neill, Bader, and Fowler would be my picks for that at least at first, with Lane Thomas getting the next look if any of them are out of the lineup.
The big debate is going to be about Dylan Carlson and what his role is off the bat with the team. I’d love to see him at first, but if he’s not going to get playing time, there’s no reason to bring him up. If he’s going to play four or more days a week, that’ll be worthwhile. If not, just leave him down. Carlson isn’t on the 40-man roster yet, but the team has some room to wiggle there. In a short season, you need the petal to the floor the whole time, Carlson has to be part of it.
Having Miller, Thomas, Ravelo, Wieters, and Carlson on the bench all make for a good mix of options that would be able to fill in well.
Starting Pitchers: Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright
Relief Pitchers: Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos, Kwang-Hyun Kim, John Gant, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Ryan Helsley, Brett Cecil, Tyler Webb, Austin Gomber, Junior Fernandez, Alex Reyes
Even though there has already been some groundwork laid for Carlos Martinez finding his way into the bullpen, a recent article from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch says that Martinez has already been throwing 95 pitches and around seven innings while in the Dominican Republic. I’m going to say that if he stays healthy, he’ll be in the rotation with the other four we know are going to be there.
With Mike Shildt going with the normal five-man rotation, that will mean that the bullpen will be more important than ever. With John Brebbia out for the year, the team has some big innings to fill. Young guys like Helsley, Fernandez, Reyes, and Gomber are going to be huge to step into that role or just to eat innings in general.
Kim will add a great option from the left side or as a guy who could jump into the rotation if it’s needed. For Ponce de Leon, I believe 2020 will be a year where he shines. After a couple of years of inconsistent usage, there should be plenty of innings for him to prove he has the stuff to stick for good at the MLB level. Him coming out of the bullpen as a 2-4 inning reliever is going to be awesome to see this year.
On The Bubble (5)
Position Players: Austin Dean, Andrew Knizner, Edmundo Sosa
Pitchers: Genesis Cabrera, Jake Woodford
Dean, Knizner, and Sosa all are intriguing names because they are already on the 40-man. I could see any of them jumping in instead of Carlson for that fact alone. With Knizner, he needs playing time, so if the Cardinals don’t think they can juggle three catchers, leave him out. Sosa has the look of a better version of Yairo Munoz, and Dean had a ton of success at the Marlins’ AAA level last season, making him interesting.
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On the pitching side, Woodford and Cabrera are both right on the cusp of making the big leagues. In a normal year, they would both spend time at the big leagues and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do anyways. There’s no way the team gets through the year with just 16 total pitchers.
I don’t see a way where all the guys projected here are ready/healthy by the time the season starts, and even if they are, there will certainly be cases that pop up and reinforcements will be needed.
Of course, all of this was written with the sunshine and rainbows world view that none of these players are sick or injured and that the season is actually going on. For now, I’m just going off of what we know.
This is just one writer’s opinion of the 30-man roster two weeks out, I’m sure things will change between then and now.