Cardinals Activate Two Key Players for the Final Week

photo: Giovanny Gallegos via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis Cardinals announcement

Brian Walton’s take

The Fowler and Gallegos activations were expected as progress reports from John Mozeliak and Mike Shildt pointed to the third and final stop on this road trip, Kansas City, as their joint return.

In doing so, the club welcomes back two valuable performers – its best-hitting outfielder in 2020 and its closer.

Fowler is one of only three Cardinals with an OPS+ over 100, with his 124 mark trailing Paul Goldschmidt (151) and Brad Miller (128). On September 2, when the 34-year old went onto the injured list, he was slashing .279/.349/.485/.834 with four home runs and 14 RBI. The switch-hitting outfielder reached base safely in 19 of his 23 games while co-leading the Cardinals in home runs and ranking second in RBI at the time.

Dexter Fowler

Fowler had been trying to play through from a stomach ailment for several weeks, a recurrence of a problem he had in the past, prior to his St. Louis years. He had been trying different medications but did not get hoped for relief, so had to switch to a medication that would weaken his immune system. So, as a precaution, he was placed on the COVID-related IL

Giovanny Gallegos

Gallegos has a 3.97 ERA and four saves. The right-hander has fanned 14 against just three walks in 11 1/3 innings in 2020. Exactly 10 days ago, on September 11, the 29-year old was placed on the 10-day injured list with a groin injury. The Cardinals played 13 games without their closer, with Andrew Miller the primary replacement.

Justin Williams

Williams, 25, received his first-ever promotion to St. Louis on September 17 after two years of trying. The left-handed hitting outfielder went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts plus a walk.

Nabil Crismatt

Crismatt, 25, has pitched his way into a semi-regular role with good results in low-leverage situations, but is a victim of numbers. The right-hander has a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings over six appearances. Crismatt fanned eight against just one walk, but also yielded two long balls.

Roel Ramirez

Like Williams and Genesis Cabrera, Ramirez joined the Cardinals from Tampa Bay in the Tommy Pham trade in July 2018. Like a number of other Cardinals pitchers in this compressed season, the 25-year old was rushed to St. Louis before he was ready. In his lone outing with St. Louis, on August 16, Ramirez was bombed for six earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. He was returned to the alternate camp and was not recalled since.

Roster ramifications

Ramirez was the obvious choice to be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Fowler, who had temporarily been exempted from the roster due to his COVID risk.

Ramirez’ next move will be decided in the next seven days – whether traded, claimed off waivers by another organization, outrighted to the minor leagues or released. Likely Ramirez will clear outright waivers and remain in the organization – following the path of fellow hurlers Alvaro Seijas, Ryan Meisinger, Jesus Cruz and Rob Kaminsky before him this summer.

The Cardinals have just one remaining player on the COVID IL, relief pitcher Kodi Whitley, who has since been dealing with an elbow issue. The 40-man roster is at 41 players as a result, not including four 45-day IL pitcher done for the season – Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, John Brebbia and Ricardo Sanchez.

Playing time ramifications

With Fowler’s return, he will likely reclaim his starting job in right field. As Tyler O’Neill continues to be the regular in left, the only place for top prospect Dylan Carlson is center field. After a recent hot spell, Harrison Bader has cooled off over the last week and seems most likely to lose playing time in the final week.

As soon as Gallegos shows he is ready, he should be back covering the ninth inning. The set up corps is strong with Cabrera, Miller and Tyler Webb from the left and Alex Reyes and John Gant from the right.

Mozeliak remarks

Prior to Monday’s game, the president of baseball ops answered our questions.

Taxi squad – Williams and Crismatt join the carryovers from Pittsburgh, who are Andrew Knizner, Johan Oviedo, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Max Schrock. Obviously, that is six when only five are allowed. It is not clear which one is excluded and is in St. Louis instead of KC. My guess is Ponce.

Kodi Whitley – The right-hander threw Saturday and recovered well Sunday, so he might be activated in the next few days.

Dakota Hudson – The injured right-hander has returned to St. Louis. Next step is to be evaluated by Dr. George Paletta to decide his treatment plan.

Austin Dean – Is working in secondary camp in St. Louis, but will run into a roster crunch. About out of time for this season.

Secondary camp – The group of seven or eight players includes those who have already seen time with St. Louis this season. (Therefore, it would exclude Edmundo Sosa and Elehuris Montero.) Leading the camp are coaches Chris Swauger and Joey Hawkins. Jose Oquendo has returned home to Florida.

Games 59 and 60 – The two makeup contests on Monday, September 28, if required, will be held in Detroit. Mozeliak said he does not know if Game 2 would be played if the result of Game 1 determines it does not have post-season impact.

Mike Shildt via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Shildt comments

The manager followed the PBO before Monday’s game.

Gallegos – His return as closer is being thought about. Fortunately, they also have other options so will evaluate daily.

Fowler – He is ready to go. Expect he will be an every-day fixture in the lineup.

Austin Gomber – His choice as Game 2 starter was based on him being the most stretched out, capable of throwing 80 pitchers. Did not want to bring back Daniel Ponce de Leon again on short rest. Johan Oviedo not yet eligible to return from minors (inside of 10 days).

Full roster detail at The Cardinal Nation

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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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