photo: Austin Gomber (Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)
Through the first six games over four days of their unique eight-games-in-six-days-against-two-teams-in-one-city road trip, the St. Louis Cardinals have carefully managed their pitching. The core is a group of MLB regulars who are limited in pitch counts after having been off two weeks, augmented by a series of first-time additions to the roster.
The new members of the 40-man and 28-man active rosters this week have already included six pitchers. Only one of them, Seth Elledge, is ranked among The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospects in the system, placed 34th.
In my assessment, the other five – Roel Ramirez, Rob Kaminsky, Nabil Crismatt, Ryan Meisinger and Jesus Cruz – would not have been promotion candidates in normal times. But there is nothing normal about the Cardinals’ current schedule grind.
Just as outfielder Dylan Carlson was clearly the organization’s best hitting prospect in their alternate camp, so was Johan Oviedo the top pitching prospect. The 22-year old ranks no. 16 on TCN’s current top 50.
However, while Carlson’s MLB readiness seemed confirmed, Oviedo has never played above Double-A. By their actions, it seemed the organization was trying to get through the road trip by promoting pitchers of less talent and promise, knowing that most or perhaps all of them will have to be shed from the 40-man roster once all the COVID IL players return.
I covered this challenge in detail in the following article for members of The Cardinal Nation:
The Cuban right-hander Oviedo, however, is certainly not expendable, which is probably why he was not called upon until after so many others had been tried – and exhausted.
There is no doubt that Oviedo has the talent. He impressed the organization in spring training and Summer Camp, and has “earned the opportunity,” according to manager Mike Shildt.
After admitting the “tanks were empty” of the members of his makeshift, patchwork bullpen after Tuesday night’s loss, Shildt disclosed before Wednesday’s opener that Oviedo will be added to the roster prior to Game 2 and will be the starting pitcher.
Shildt was very clear this was about getting innings from his newest starter.
“Oviedo is the most built up guy we have in our organization,” he said.
It aligns well with Oviedo’s history.
#stlcards RHP Johan Oveido has a history of durability. Last season, he threw 90 or more pitches in 23 of his 27 starts between Palm Beach and Springfield.
— Brian Walton (@B_Walton) August 19, 2020
When Oviedo takes the mound, he will become the Cardinals’ 13th MLB debut of 2020 – in the team’s 13th game this season.
The player to be taken off the active roster for Oviedo will not be disclosed until Oviedo officially comes on, but a good guess will be a pitcher who throws in relief of Jack Flaherty in Game 1. This article will be updated once that information becomes available.
Gomber returns – to what role?
Another day of the Chicago road trip means another doubleheader at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. Prior to the twin bill, the club made several announcements.
We have activated LHP Austin Gomber from the Injured List and optioned RHP Ryan Meisinger to our Alternate Training Site.
RHP Jake Woodford will be the 29th man for today’s doubleheader against the Cubs. pic.twitter.com/et70Xw2gEH
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 19, 2020
Gomber, who has been throwing in preparation for his return, was originally thought to return on Monday. Before the Oviedo disclosure, the lefty also seemed the primary candidate to start in Wednesday’s Game 2.
How Gomber will be used remains a question. Without mentioning names, Shildt said he expects his rotation to continue in turn for the Cincinnati series. That suggests Gomber will work in long relief for now, and also that Oveido’s start is a spot one, rather than a move into the regular starting five.
COVID Cardinals update
Also prior to Game 1, Shildt mentioned that Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo were taking ground balls today. The former two are also taking at bats.
The manager said Molina “would have liked to play today,” so he should be “ready to go sooner than later.” My conclusion is Thursday. The catcher had been asymptomatic. DeJong is still “getting his legs under him” and seems to be on a bit longer return schedule.
The manager also noted that two sidelined pitchers are making progress. Carlos Martinez will throw a side session on Thursday and Kodi Whitley is playing catch.
The following was announced between Games 1 and 2 on Wednesday.
We have purchased the contract of RHP Johan Oviedo and added him to the Major League roster.
RHP Jesus Cruz has been optioned to our Alternate Training Site. pic.twitter.com/eROKbe3ggD
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 19, 2020
Full roster detail at The Cardinal Nation
To view the two 2020 rosters and to track the status of the Cardinals’ 60-man pool, 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
Detailed team rosters for the entire system can be accessed via the red menu column at the top left (see “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES”).
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