With just a few more days until Opening Day in Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals have their Opening Day roster set.
After much speculation this spring, the St. Louis Cardinals have finally narrowed down their roster for Opening Day this week. While most of the roster looks like many expected it would, there were some noteworthy moves.
What are some initial thoughts?
No Lane Thomas. You know, I thought it was a given that Thomas would make the Opening Day roster this season. He was just the name that always came up. And, Harrison Bader is starting on the injured list. He’s finally going to get his shot. Well. Spring Training was that shot for Thomas and apparently the team saw his decline in the later weeks of spring.
He ended spring hitting .216/.250/.270 with eight hits, two doubles, and five RBI. When you tack on the 13 strikeouts, and it’s time to look elsewhere for your backup outfielder.
With Dylan Carlson expected to take over center field duties in Bader’s absence, this presents an opening in right field.
Matt Carpenter will have a bench role. Tommy Edman earned his spot as the team’s starting second baseman. There was some early thought Carpenter might challenge him for it, but a rough spring proved difficult to overcome. Manager Mike Shildt said Carpenter is mentally at ease with his role on the team and will have opportunities this season for which he’s hopeful the veteran will take advantage. We shall see!
Justin Williams impressed his way onto the roster. Williams played several games in right field this spring. Not only can he play the position but he can hit. I am excited to see him get this opportunity and I hope he takes it and never turns back.
It would be interesting to see Carlson succeed in center and Williams in right and make things interesting when Bader returns from the injured list. The competition could be intriguing!
Austin Dean, Edmundo Sosa, Andrew Knizner and John Nogowski round out the bench. Knizner finally earned his spot to become the backup for Yadier Molina. It will be interesting to see how they will keep him fresh and was know Molina enjoys playing as often as possible.
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It will be a struggle to get Nogowski in the lineup as he would be the primary backup to Paul Goldschmidt at first base. I’m hopeful Nogowski will get a late innings opportunity or two to show off his bat. He hit .355/.500/1.048 with two home runs and 12 RBI. You have to find an opportunity for a bat like that.
Sosa was a little bit of a surprise over Jose Rondon. But, Sosa has experience with the Cardinals’ system and can play shortstop and second base. Rondon provides depth and will be a key asset with the Memphis Redbirds.
Dean will be an option for right field and in left in the event Tyler O’Neill needs a respite. He can also provide a little pop off the bench as he had a .306 batting average in 36 at-bats this spring. He hit a homer, seven RBI, and two stolen bases as well. Not a bad option to get things moving on the base paths late in a game.
Jake Woodford was a nice surprise. I was happily surprised to see right-hander Jake Woodford make the Opening Day roster. And then I looked at his spring numbers! He pitched in seven games, going 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in 11 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. It will be great to see if he can keep this up. If it’s to clean up a bad inning from a starter or just to get in some innings, he might become a refreshing arm out of the bullpen this summer.
This roster will prove interesting as we begin the 2021 Cardinals season. Get your popcorn ready, fans!