Cardinals Option out Ponce de Leon, Add Oviedo to Rotation

photo: Johan Oviedo via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The St. Louis Cardinals optioned three players to their alternate camp, including Friday’s starting pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon, and placed left-hander Ricardo Sanchez on the 10-day injured list. Johan Oviedo will be taking the vacated rotation spot.

St. Louis Cardinals release

The St. Louis Cardinals made several transactions following last night’s game and prior to today’s game (Saturday, August 29) against the Cleveland Indians.

Following Friday’s game, the Cardinals optioned RHP Junior Fernandez and INF Max Schrock to the Alternate Training Site in Springfield, Mo.  Right-handed pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon was optioned to the Alternate Training Site prior to today’s game.

Daniel Ponce de Leon

Left-handed pitcher Ricardo Sánchez was placed on the 10-day Injured List with left elbow pain.  Sanchez threw 53 pitches over 2.0 innings in Friday night’s relief appearance.

Ricardo Sánchez

Recalled from the Alternate Training Site and active for today’s game are 1B John Nogowski, LHP Rob Kaminsky, RHP Seth Elledge and RHP Ryan Meisinger.

Brian Walton’s take

As expected, the Cardinals moved to replenish their pitching following Ponce de Leon’s 2/3 of an inning start on Friday evening. In fact all four players removed from the active roster, including Schrock, pitched in that 14-2 shellacking.

Per manager Mike Shildt, Ponce de Leon is a candidate to be recalled as the 29th man to start in upcoming doubleheader games. Replacing Ponce in the rotation is rookie Johan Oviedo, a move I foreshadowed earlier this week.

Oviedo, The Cardinal Nation’s 16th-ranked prospect, has made two starts of exactly five innings each, allowing two runs each time out for a 3.60 ERA. In the 10 innings, the 22-year old has allowed just 10 baserunners on six hits and four walks and fanned five.

Fernandez was ineffective Friday in this first appearance coming off the COVID injured list. He allowed three hits in the fifth, including a two-run home run, and in the sixth, he issued two walks and yielded two hits for two more scores without securing an out. A potentially winnable 6-2 game ballooned to a 10-2 deficit on Fernandez’ watch.

Junior Fernandez

Sanchez followed Fernandez to the mound on Friday and allowed both of his inherited runners to score on an RBI single and an RBI double. In his defense, Sanchez had not pitched in game action from Game 1 of the August 19 double-header until Friday night. That was a span of nine days and 11 games between appearances.

Max Schrock

Schrock had taken some pitchers deep into at-bats but the bottom line results in his MLB debut stint were meager. His slash line was .176/.176/.353/.529 with six strikeouts and no walks in 17 plate appearances over 11 games.  Schrock will compete with Edmundo Sosa for the next opportunity for a middle infielder to join St. Louis.

John Nogowski

Nogowski offers a stronger offensive profile than Schrock, though defensively, he is a first baseman only, limiting his use somewhat. The 27-year old went 1-for-4 with a strikeout in his MLB debut on August 16.

Seth Elledge

Kaminsky, Elledge and Meisinger join the rotating crew of available arms out of the Cardinals bullpen. Elledge is The Cardinal Nation’s 34th-ranked prospect.

Other player updates

Among other player-related comments by manager Mike Shildt prior to Saturday’s game were the following.

Carlos Martinez threw two innings in Springfield on Friday and the report was positive. He had good command of his fastball and slider and they had good movement. Martinez will work up to 70-75 pitches and it is expected to be “another good week-plus” before the right-hander rejoins St. Louis. “Ideally where we are headed,” per Shildt is for Martinez to return to the rotation as part of the upcoming doubleheaders.

Carlos Martinez

Matt Wieters’ return from a broken foot is “getting closer”. Shildt said the reserve catcher will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip to be activated at a point to be determined.

Matt Wieters

Previous starters Jake Woodford and Austin Gomber are needed to provide innings from the bullpen and the team cannot afford to give them the necessary time to stretch out their workload to take on a starting role this season.

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