After getting blasted by the Dodgers, the Cardinals turn to a frustrating lineup

The Cardinals desperately need the first win of 2024, but the starting lineup on Saturday is doing no favors for a bounceback.
St Louis Cardinals  v Milwaukee Brewers
St Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The lineup was supposed to be the key strength of the 2024 St. Louis Cardinals, but after two disappointing showings on Thursday and Friday, manager Oli Marmol has decided to start three reserve players in Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here's the full starting lineup:

  1. Brendan Donovan (LF)
  2. Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
  3. Nolan Gorman (2B)
  4. Nolan Arenado (3B)
  5. Matt Carpenter (DH)
  6. Ivan Herrera (C)
  7. Alec Burleson (RF)
  8. Brandon Crawford (SS)
  9. Victor Scott II (CF)

This lineup is not inspiring in the slightest, and it's quite baffling how so many regular players are receiving time off just two days into the season. Ivan Herrera's start at catcher is the least offensive on this list. After all, he's earned split catching duties with Willson Contreras after a strong showing in winter ball and Spring Training. However, Willson's overall omission and Matt Carpenter as the starting DH batting fifth makes no sense.

Carpenter was brought in as the 26th man on the roster, essentially serving as a veteran mentor to younger players, and wasn't due to have much playing time at all. With injuries to Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar, and Dylan Carlson, it's understandable that he'll see some more playing time than initially expected, but starting him in the third game of the season and batting him fifth is a step too far. Sure, Carpenter had a solid Spring Training, but having him so high in the order and leaving off Contreras or Jordan Walker in a pivotal game such as this is inexcusable.

Walker's omission along with shortstop Masyn Winn is also extremely frustrating. Walker and Winn both need as many reps as possible to continue developing and at such a young age won't need this many days off. Winn in particular had a strong showing yesterday with two hits, and benching him in favor of Brandon Crawford could kill his positive momentum.

The Cardinals will face a tough opponent in Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and they need all the help they can get. If they can catch the young Japanese ace off guard and strike early, they'll be well-positioned to steal a win in LA and reset for lighter competition. However, Oli Marmol's third lineup of the season will do them no favors as the team tries to bounce back from a terrible 2023 and a tough start to 2024.