Harrison Bader’s trip to the IL will throw a wrench into things for the St. Louis Cardinals. In his absence, what could the Opening Day lineup look like?
The news of the week has been that Harrison Bader, the St. Louis Cardinals projected starting center fielder, is going to be out for at least four weeks due to a forearm issue. While Bader received a platelet-rich plasma shot that should boost healing, he is going to start the 2021 season on the Injured List.
Manager Mike Shildt has already tipped his hand that Dylan Carlson will slide over into Bader’s spot in center, but Bader’s spot in the lineup is now up for grabs among the rest of the outfielders. Someone has to step up.
Mike Shildt hasn’t been very veiled when it comes to what his plan will be for the lineup to start the year. Without Bader, things change some, but the biggest change is that another outfielder gets to make the Opening Day roster.
With Bader out, what could the lineup look like one week from today when the St. Louis Cardinals open their season in Cincinnati?
To start, the top of the lineup won’t be affected by Bader’s absence. It’ll still be the same Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado trio fans have seen for much of the spring. Behind those three, Paul DeJong, Tyler O’Neill, and Yadier Molina are a pretty good bet to come next.
Based on what the lineup has been so far, it’ll probably be Dylan Carlson in the 7th spot then Justin Williams in the 8th spot, playing right field.
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The other options for replacing Bader are solid, but Williams really has had a solid spring. John Nogowski could start in right, Tommy Edman could start in right with Matt Carpenter at second, or Lane Thomas could start in right.
Each of these options has their own merits and pitfalls, but the Opening Day starter for the Reds will likely be Luis Castillo and Williams offers the lefty bat to combat the right-hander.
While Bader was likely to be the 8th hitter in the lineup, changing anything above that spot doesn’t make much sense. A simple plug-and-play with one of the other outfield options should work just fine.
Bader will likely have his spot back in center field when he is healthy, this is time for a new outfielder to prove that if Bader struggles, they should be the next man up.