The St. Louis Cardinals optioned down two arms today, making them ineligible to pitch in the Wild Card or Division Series.
Before the last regular season game of the year, the St. Louis Cardinals optioned RHP Dakota Hudson and LHP JoJo Romero to AAA Memphis, activating RHP Jordan Hicks and recalling LHP Matthew Liberatore to the Major League Roster.
Activating Hicks had been the plan for St. Louis as long as he was healthy, so the move to call him up and send down Hudson was expected. Hudson has struggled for the majority of 2022, and was shelled in his final start of the season, pitching just 2.2 innings, allowing 9 hits and 7 runs. Hicks has has an up and down season as well with a 4.92 ERA in 61.1 innings of work, but in his last 7 games before his injury, he had an ERA of just 3.00.
The trust surprise came in the form of JoJo Romero. Although he has not been amazing in St. Louis in his 15 appearances, he has been solid with a 3.77 ERA in 14.1 innings of work, and Liberatore has struggled in both AAA Memphis and at the Major League level, with 5.17 and 5.97 ERAs respectively across both levels.
The other interesting piece of this is that Romero and Hudson cannot be called back up to the roster for the next 15 days unless there is an injury, meaning both pitchers are going to miss out on the Wild Card and possible Division Series rosters for St. Louis.
This does not guarantee Liberatore will make the playoff roster. In fact, he likely just got the last start of the season, and the club will make a different move to replace him on the roster. Perhaps this will be with another lefty that has had an up and down 2022 season, which our own J.T. Buchheit has speculated.
Stay tuned for the Wild Card roster announcement over the next 48 hours. There are quite a few names on the bubble currently, and there may be more shock moves to come.