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St. Louis Cardinals announcement
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 30, 2020
Brian Walton’s take
As expected, the Cardinals abandoned their in-season mix of 15 pitchers and 13 position players and the 14/14 split during the final week once all the doubleheaders were over, to the above 13/15 for the Wild Card Series. After all, the first-round series requires just three starting pitchers (Kwang-Hyun Kim, Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty) and each team has to play just one game per day.
That enables Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon to move into what is essentially a 10-man bullpen.
During Tuesday’s workout day, manager Mike Shildt would not foreshadow his roster, but made it clear that “we’ll have plenty of pitching.”
The beneficiary of the team going with one fewer pitcher is third catcher Andrew Knizner. This allows second catcher, switch-hitter Matt Wieters, available to pinch hit. Knizner, The Cardinal Nation’s fifth-ranked prospect, was active from July 23 until September 4, filling in when Wieters was out with a toe injury. However, the 25-year old got into only eight games and took 16 at-bats, collecting four hits.
The physical changes to the 28-man from the roster on the final day of the regular season are the addition of usual 29th-man Ponce de Leon and Knizner, with pitchers Seth Elledge and Jake Woodford coming off. Another regular contributing pitcher for whom there was no Wild Card room is Nabil Crismatt.
11 Cardinals will be making their MLB post-season debuts, ironically the same number as in 2019. They are pitchers (KBO playoff-tested) Kim, Gomber, Alex Reyes, Johan Oviedo, Kodi Whitley, catcher Knizner, infielders Rangel Ravelo and (eight-year MLB veteran) Brad Miller and outfielders Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson and Austin Dean.
Six of the first-timers are homegrown Cardinals – Carlson, Gomber, Knizner, Oviedo, Reyes and Whitley.
|St. Louis playoff debuts||Position||Joined StL||Became pro||Homegrown|
Larger taxi squad
In addition to the active 28 players, up to 12 others are allowed to travel with the club as a post-season taxi squad. This is increased from the maximum of five allowed during the regular season.
While the Cardinals have not disclosed the members of their taxi squad, almost the entire 40-man roster is with the team in San Diego. President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak disclosed on Wednesday that all players under consideration to be used are with the team inside the bubble currently.
Those almost certainly included are pitchers Crismatt, Elledge, Woodford and Junior Fernandez, infielder Max Schrock and outfielders Justin Williams and Lane Thomas.
Any of them could serve as next-day replacements if one of the 28 players is injured. Rosters can be completely reset between rounds.
Clear exceptions to the bubble group are two pitchers done for the year. Dakota Hudson had successful Tommy John surgery on Monday in St. Louis, and fellow rotation mate Carlos Martinez will continue his rehab of his oblique strain at his home in the Dominican Republic.
With the team is another pitcher on the IL, John Gant (groin strain), who is a candidate to be activated in future rounds, if the Cardinals advance.
As I do each year the Cardinals reach the post-season, I predict in advance what will be the makeup of the active post-season roster.
This year, I missed on just one of the 28, due to the fact I posted my predictions before outfielder Austin Dean was activated of the injured list before Sunday’s regular season finale. Dean took the spot on my projected Wild Card Series roster earmarked for reliever Elledge.
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