How the Cardinals can replace Dylan Carlson if he misses time
The St Louis Cardinals can ill afford to lose any player, but losing Dylan Carlson would be a tough blow to overcome with 48 games to go.
The St. Louis Cardinals took a gamble with their outfield this season. They believed that Harrison Bader would take a leap in center field while remaining optimistic that Tyler O’Neill, a power hitting and a Gold Glove caliber defender, would benefit from more playing time. But they put all their chips in on Dylan Carlson, a talented rookie outfielder, and believed that his play would make the Cardinals outfield an above average unit.
Bader and O’Neill have more than lived up to the hype, with both playing outstanding baseball both offensively and defensively. Carlson, meanwhile, has been good (111 OPS+) and a strong option in both right and center fields. But like Wade LeBlanc, Carlson left Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with right wrist soreness.
There is no indication how serious Carlson, 22, injury is. But he traveled with the team to Kansas City and will undergo an MRI on his wrist, according to Katie Woo of The Athletic, and is out of the team’s lineup in the first game of a series against the Royals.
Losing Carlson for any length of time would be a massive blow for the Cardinals. After all, he is the team’s top internal replacement in center field in case Bader gets hurt. And the team has been hurting for outfield depth all season, with second baseman Tommy Edman being their best No. 4 outfielder, and the options thinner after dealing Lane Thomas to the Washington Nationals.
On Friday, the Cardinals are starting Jose Rondon in Carlson’s place in right field. Rondon, 27, is a career journeyman and has fared well in limited time this season, hitting .271/.333/.354 with one home run and three RBI in 48 at-bats. He is not the kind of performer that Carlson is, however, and would mark a significant downgrade in case the rookie outfielder misses any extended period of time — something that the Cardinals may not be able to overcome as they look to erase an 11-game deficit with 48 games to go.