St. Louis Cardinals adjust roster and prepare to resume play
By Ben Remis
It’s been a week since the St. Louis Cardinals last took the field. What will the adjusted roster look like when they start playing again on Friday?
It feels like it’s been forever since the St. Louis Cardinals last played a baseball game. Coming off a very disappointing sweep in Minnesota, the Cardinals were hit with a COVID-19 outbreak that forced them to quarantine in their hotel in Milwaukee. Luckily, the players and staff affected seem to be doing ok, and the virus has been contained.
The Cardinals are returning to St. Louis with plans to host the red-hot Chicago Cubs on Friday.
While the players resume workouts and get ready to play ball, John Mozeliak and the Cardinals front office have been busy replacing the seven players that they were forced to put on the IL.
Rangel Ravelo was also added to the IL today, as the Cardinals were able to call up players from Springfield. The pitchers will be tough to replace, but what stands out are the big holes up the middle. We all know how big the loss of Yadi will be. With the offense struggling, the Cardinals will now have to perform without cleanup hitter Paul DeJong. DeJong’s backup at shortstop was Edmundo Sosa, too, so there is a question there defensively as well.
Rosters have been reduced from 30 to 28 for the rest of the year starting Thursday, so the Cardinals did not have to replace every player who tested positive. This morning, they announced the following roster moves to supplement the addition of Brad Miller from a day before.
Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera will be great additions to this versatile bullpen, bringing electric stuff from the right and left sides. Roel Ramirez is a name not many people know, but he was part of the Tommy Pham trade in 2018 and looks solid as well.
Max Schrock is a middle-infielder who keeps getting better at the plate and can play multiple positions, and Miller is a veteran, left-handed bat who can also be moved around defensively. All five are examples of the great depth the Cardinals have and are MLB-ready players who will be able to help out the team.
To recap, the Cardinals are replacing their catcher, shortstop, a starting pitcher, two bench batters, and two relievers. They have activated two bench batters and three relievers. Clearly, they are counting on many of the players on the current roster to step up. Mike Shildt has been clear so far about who is moving around to take on a new role.
According to Shildt, Tommy Edman will slide over from third base to play shortstop. While he has covered many spots for the Cardinals, Edman last played shortstop in 2019, where he had ten games at the position for Memphis. In addition, Kwang Hyun Kim will move from the closer role and take over in his more natural spot as a part of the rotation. Daniel Ponce de Leon remains in the rotation as well, leaving Austin Gomber as the long man in the bullpen.
The bullpen has been the brightest spot in the Cardinal’s season so far. Losing KK out there is important, but he has only had one save opportunity. Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley, and maybe even Andrew Miller will have a chance to step into the ninth inning now. Seven-inning doubleheaders will also mean there are fewer innings to cover, and more chances to mix-and-match different pitchers in different scenarios.
On the offensive side, Matt Carpenter will probably become the starter at 3B. The DH will have to be more of a rotation of players. Lane Thomas will get increased opportunities, Brad Miller will have at-bats against right-handed pitchers, and Austin Dean might get his first at-bats of the season as well.
The Cubs will have John Lester on the mound Friday night when the Cardinals take the field for the first time in over a week. With Jack Flaherty on the mound, here’s my lineup prediction for when the team returns to play:
2B- Kolten Wong
SS- Tommy Edman
1B- Paul Goldschmidt
LF- Tyler O’Neill
RF- Dexter Fowler
3B- Matt Carpenter
C- Matt Wieters
DH- Lane Thomas
CF- Harrison Bader
Saturday, when the Cubs have right-hander Alec Mills as the scheduled starter, Brad Miller will get to replace either Lane Thomas or Harrison Bader in the lineup, and Matt Carpenter might move up in the order. Otherwise, this is the lineup we’ll have to get used to seeing out on the field until DeJong and Molina test negative twice.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
- The St. Louis Cardinals sign catcher Willson Contreras
I would hope that the Cardinals use a lot of pinch hitters over the next few weeks. Until a clear starting nine is established, there is no reason to leave a struggling DH in for the entire game, or allow a matchup to favor the pitcher in a key at-bat. The Cardinals might not have any superstar bench options at the moment, but they do have plenty of versatile players who could produce in the right role.
I wrote back in February about candidates for a dark-horse Cardinal sleeper to make a big impact. One of them, Max Schrock, has now been called up to the big-league squad. Whether it’s him or someone else, COVID-19 has made it necessary for someone to step up.
Adversity is part of every baseball season. With less time to figure things out than years past, Mike Shildt is going to have some extremely tough decisions to make, especially on the offensive side. We knew the strength of this team was the pitching at the beginning of the year, but now more than ever the Cardinals are going to have to rely on their starters. The last week has been scary. Time for a quick deep breath, and then it’s back to the rest of the 60-game sprint.