#4 - When Willson Contreras is not catching
On days when Contreras is not behind the plate for St. Louis, there'll likely be some interesting shakeups to the lineup. I'll show a scenario where Contreras is DHing and when he is sitting, both against right-handed pitching, and then give my opinion on how St. Louis should handle his rest days.
Conteras as the DH - 1. CF Lars Nootbaar 2. 2B Brendan Donovan 3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt 4. 3B Nolan Arenado 5. DH Willson Contreras 6. LF Tyler O'Neill 7. RF Jordan Walker 8. SS Tommy Edman 9. C Andrew Knizner
Contreras resting - 1. CF Lars Nootbaar 2. 2B Brendan Donovan 3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt 4. 3B Nolan Arenado 5. LF Tyler O'Neill 6. DH Juan Yepez 7. RF Jordan Walker 8. SS Tommy Edman 9. C Andrew Knizner
When you look at both of these lineups, they are pretty strong when you consider that the 1-8 spots remain at minimum above league average hitters throughout. If I am being honest though, I would rather the Cardinals not DH Contreras and just let him rest fully when he's not catching, especially if they actually want him to catch close to 120-130 games next season.
My reasoning for this is one, Knizner (or Herrera) will have to play anyways, so you're not negating that by leaving Contreras in the lineup. One of the major reasons why Contreras will be such an impactful addition is that when he catches, this spot in the lineup may be one of the biggest upgrades in all of baseball from what the club's production at catcher was in 2022. The Cardinals should have plenty of DH options this year that need playing time between Gorman, Yepez, Walker, Burleson, and other starters like Goldschmidt and Arenado, so I'd rather just let them have those at-bats.
Second, I know being the DH is not super taxing, but handing out a five-year deal to a catcher is a big commitment. The Cardinals are paying him so that he can be their primary catcher for the duration of the deal, not turn into a mostly DH player by the end of that. Anything they can do right now to save his legs will be greatly appreciated in future seasons.
So, if I were Oli Marmol, I'll let Contreras DH when he's hot at the plate, and taking his bat out of the lineup is a bad idea, but for the most part, I am letting him have the day off whenever he is not behind the plate.
This last lineup I will look at really showcases the depth St. Louis had right now and how that can be a major strength this season.