4 players on the St. Louis Cardinals playoff roster bubble

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Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Cardinals 14-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Cardinals 14-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 26: Jake Woodford #40 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 26, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 26: Jake Woodford #40 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 26, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Jake Woodford

Keep him on the roster: Jake Woodford has been a good innings eater for much of his time this season. On Sept. 4, Woodford relieved a struggling Kwang Hyun Kim and pitched 5.1 innings, allowing no runs and only giving up two hits, saving the bullpen and keeping the Cardinals in a game that they ultimately lost 4-0.

Woodford has improved markedly as the season has gone on. His fastball strategy is better with a new sinker, and his slider has improved its spin rate and break from last year. While he struggled early in the season, he has shown an ability to adapt and improve. If he were to remain on the roster in the playoffs, he could serve well in a long relief role.

Leave him off the roster: Woodford has had some trouble against left-handers, with them putting up an .877 OPS against him. His percentile ratings on Baseball Savant show him to be lacking in most areas, including exit velocity and whiff percentage. His FIP of 4.68 is also quite a bit higher than his ERA of 3.88, which suggests some good luck for Woodford.

Woodford’s curveball also hasn’t gotten the results one might expect given its above-average break, but an expected weighted on-base average of .412 shows that it still needs some fine-tuning.

Jose Rondon

Keep him on the roster: Jose Rondon has put together his best season in the major leagues in limited opportunities, hitting .273. He has the ability to play in the infield and the outfield, giving him versatility. He’s improved his eye at the plate, with a career-high walk rate of 8.1%, and he’s cut his strikeout rate from the last two seasons. Rondon has also shown a solid ability to hit breaking balls and off-speed pitches this year.

Leave him off the roster: The Cardinals already have two other shortstops on the roster in Edmundo Sosa and Paul DeJong, making Rondon’s ability to play the outfield the only reason to keep him around for fielding purposes. His underlying stats don’t look great either, with an expected batting average of .235. Rondon has also had trouble catching up to the fastball, hitting only .235 against them, with an expected average even lower at .191.

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