Final St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day Roster Prediction

With less than a week to go until Opening Day, it's time for my final roster predictions coming out of Spring Training.
Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Rotation (6) - Sonny Gray, Miles MIkolas, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, Steven Matz, and Zack Thompson

Out of all of the injured Cardinals, Sonny Gray seems to be the hardest for me to land on how they will handle him. I could see them putting him on the 15-day injured list to begin the year and join the rotation immediately following that, but I do think he'll make the Opening Day roster, just not as the Opening Day starter.

Gray may see his start pushed back, and here's where I think the Cardinals can get creative. Remember when people were talking about the Cardinals having a six-man rotation to begin the year...now is the perfect excuse to do so, allowing Gray more time before having to make his first start. but not forcing him into an entire injured list stint.

Here's how it could work...

March 28th - Miles Mikolas
March 29th - Lance Lynn
March 30th - Kyle Gibson
March 31st - Steven Matz
April 1st - Zack Thompson
April 2nd - Sonny Gray
April 3rd - Miles Mikolas
April 4th - Lance Lynn
April 5th - Off-day

If Gray were to begin the year on the injured list, his first start of the season could not come until at least April 12th. If, and only if, they think Gray will be ready by April 2nd, then this seems like the best route to me.

The way the Cardinals appear to be positioning their rotation right now would be to have Thompson take the ball fifth in the order, but if Gray does get to make a start early in the season rather than an IL stint, I would argue he should pitch in the second game of the season. Why? Well aside from the fact that he may be the second-best healthy starter right now, that would potentially allow them to have Thompson available for a few innings to piggyback off of Gray, especially if he's on a pitch limit.

Once Gray rejoins the rotation, Thompson will be relegated to the bullpen, but it may not be long before we see him making starts again for St. Louis. Thompson has been impressive this spring, and with all three of Gibson, Lynn, and Matz struggling so far, the Cardinals may need to get aggressive and move someone to the bullpen if Thompson is clearly the better option. For now, the Cardinals are going to stick to their guns with the rotation, and we'll see how well that works out for them.

Just missed: Matthew Liberatore