After a team clinches a playoff spot or a division title, they usually throw quite the party in the clubhouse after the game. Champagne bottles and beer cans litter the locker room, and the players walk out of the clubhouse with smiles and soaked clothes.
The next day, rookies, reserves, and relievers get the bulk of work in the game. This lineup is typically called the "hangover" lineup. The starters and regulars are resting after a long night of celebrating. Therefore, the young guys and backup players are given starting positions in order to spell those who have been playing long, grueling innings in a lengthy season.
Lately, the St. Louis Cardinals have been fielding an interesting lineup. You would not be alone if you looked at the daily roster and thought to yourself "Who are these guys?" Most of the starters throughout September have been players who weren't ever expected to see large quantities of innings or starts. Rather, the Cardinals were supposed to be fighting for the division in September.
The hope was that players such as Richie Palacios, Ivan Herrera, Jake Woodford, and Luken Baker would only play if the team had clinched a spot in the playoffs. Injuries, underperformance, and desperation have thrown those plans into a tailspin. Now, those four, among others such as Jose Fermin, Zack Thompson, and Andrew Knizner, have been seeing a starter's workload throughout the month of September.
Take a look at the Cardinals's Opening Day lineup vs. their lineup on September 29th.
While it's great to see young players and long-time minor leaguers get their crack at professional baseball, it's not ideal for a fanbase to see stars such as Willson Contreras, Nolan Arenado, and Nolan Gorman sit on the bench when the team should be pushing for a spot in the playoffs. The tale of the lineup is a summation of the way in which the season has gone. Good for the young players who are playing their butts off. It's exciting to see Richie Palacios run out an infield single, hit a home run, and play the outfield, but it wasn't supposed to end like this.