St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of October 14-20

photo: Harrison Bader (Brad Mills/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals fell to the Washington Nationals in four straight in the Championship Series as the offense struggled. At least four Cards may have played their last game with the team. Our history feature looks back at key moments in past St. Louis playoff contests.


Postseason recaps

NLCS Game 3 – Monday, October 14 – Cardinals 1 at Nationals 8

Jose Martinez (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The National League Championship Series moved to Washington, DC for Game 3, following two Cardinals losses to the Nationals in St. Louis.  The offense-deficient Cardinals once again were the losers, falling behind 3-0 in the series.

The offense pushed its lone run across the plate in the seventh inning on a single by Paul DeJong that plated Jose Martinez.  The inning started with singles by both Martinez and Yadier Molina.  The offense managed seven hits against Nats starter Stephen Strasburg, with only one going for extra bases, a double by Marcell Ozuna.  Ozuna and Martinez were both 2-for-4.  DeJong was 2-for 3.

Jack Flaherty pitched four innings and gave up four runs on five hits.  The right hander fanned six and walked two.  The starter was not helped by a crucial missed catch in left by Marcell Ozuna and a wild pitch that Yadier Molina would stop most times, both of which occurred with two out in the fateful four-run third inning.

Tyler Webb and John Brebbia each pitched 2/3 of an inning, with Webb surrendering one run and Brebbia giving up two.  Genesis Cabrera followed, collecting two outs.  Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched the final two frames, yielding the final Nats run on two hits.


NLCS Game 4 – Tuesday, October 15 – Cardinals 4 at Nationals 7

Kolten Wong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals entered Game 4 with a slightly different lineup, but the result was the same.  The Redbirds lost 7-4, despite scoring more runs than in the previous three combined.

After falling behind 7-0 in the first inning, the Cardinals got on the board in the fourth on a solo home run by Yadier Molina.  Three more runs were added in the fifth inning.  Harrison Bader, in his first NLCS start, drew a walk and Kolten Wong singled to right, moving Bader to third.  Dexter Fowler walked, and Tommy Edman grounded out to plate Bader.  Jose Martinez doubled to score Wong and Fowler.  Wong was 2-for-4 as the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Starter Dakota Hudson lasted only 1/3 of an inning, and gave up seven runs, four earned, on five hits.  The right handler issued one walk.  Following Hudson’s exit, Adam Wainwright, Ryan Helsleyy, Giovanny Gallegos, and Andrew Miller combined to pitch the remainder of the game in scoreless fashion.

Wong made a fielding error.


The Big Picture

The Cardinals’ season ended on Wednesday, October 15, the result of a four-game sweep by the Nationals in the NLCS.

The lack of offense was the predominant issue in the poor showing, a weakness all season.  The Nationals pitchers completely shut down the offense, as the Cardinals scored only six runs over four games.

Paul Goldschmidt (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Only Jose Martinez, who did not start every game, had an OPS above .800 during the NLCS.  The next highest OPS was .702 from Yadier Molina.  Middle of the order bats Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt had OPS’s of .438 and .125 respectively in the NLCS after leading the way in the Division Series win.

Starting pitching faltered somewhat. Dakota Hudson had a disastrous start in Game 4.  Jack Flaherty gave up four runs in Game 3, hurt by defensive lapses.  Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright were fine, as was the bullpen.

The major issue was the offense.  With the season now over, the Cardinals have decisions to make about next year’s roster.  Marcell Ozuna is likely leaving in free agency, so a middle of the order bat may once again be the Cardinals’ offseason goal.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Marcell Ozuna (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports that the Cardinals will not be making an offer to re-sign Marcell Ozuna prior to his reaching free agency.

All potential free agents officially become free agents as of 9 a.m. ET the day following the end of the World Series.  The Cardinals will have exclusive rights to negotiate with Ozuna until 5 p.m. ET on the fifth day following the end of the World Series.

Saxon further writes that the Cardinals are likely to make Ozuna a qualifying offer, which is $17.8 million. If Ozuna turns down the one-year deal to return, St. Louis will receive a compensatory 2020 draft pick when the outfielder signs elsewhere.

According to MLB.com’s Adam Berry, following the NLCS Game 4 loss to the Nationals, Adam Wainwright said that he hasn’t been thinking about his future plans for the 2020 season, but stated that he and the Cardinals will talk about it over the next couple of weeks.  Wainwright is set to become a free agent on the day following the World Series.

Last year, the Cardinals signed Wainwright to a one year contract with incentives, which the 38-year old right hander met with his 2019 performance.


Transactions 

There are no transactions to report.


Injury Report

Carlos Martinez (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

RHP Carlos Martinez had a platelet-rich injection in his pitching shoulder this past week and is expected to have a normal off-season. St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak shared the details with KMOX Radio.

All injured players on the injured list at the end of the season (minus any free agents) must be returned to the 40-man roster by November 20 if they are to be retained by the team.

  • LHP Brett Cecil (carpal tunnel syndrome left wrist) continues on the 60 day injured list. Cecil had begun a throwing program but had a setback and did not return to the roster.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (torn right UCL) underwent Tommy John surgery on June 26 missed the rest of the season.
  • LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder labrum surgery) was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31. Cingrani is out for the season and will become a free agent at the end of the season.  Cingrani will likely never throw a pitch for the Cardinals.
  • OF Lane Thomas (right wrist) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to August 28 for a right wrist fracture suffered when he was hit by a pitch. Thomas was transferred to the 60-day injured list on September 1 to make room on the roster for C Joe Hudson.
  • Michael Wacha (right shoulder strain) was shut down from throwing for a week following an early exit from a game on September 25. Wacha was unavailable to participate in the NLDS and was not included on the NLCS roster.  He becomes a free agent after the end of the World Series and will likely not be returning to the Cardinals.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals 2019 season ended with the four-game sweep by the Nationals in the NLCS.  All potential free agents become official on the day following the World Series, including Marcell Ozuna, Matt Wieters, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Tony Cingrani.  Cingrani was part of a trade of Jedd Gyorko to the Los Angeles Dodgers and was injured and unable to play when he was acquired.  It is likely the Cardinals will not make a move to retain him.  Marcell Ozuna and Michael Wacha will also likely not be retained, though Ozuna may be given a qualifying offer.  Adam Wainwright has not yet announced his plans for 2020 and it possible the 38-year old pitcher will choose to retire.  Whether the Cardinals will re-sign Wieters is unknown, but prospect Andrew Knizner is ready in the wings.

In addition to making decisions on free agency, the Cardinals must return all injured players they intend to retain to the 40-man roster on or before November 20.  Any non-roster minor league players the Cardinals want to protect from the Rule 5 draft in December must be added to the 40-man roster by the 20th as well. Prime candidates include pitcher Jake Woodford and third baseman Elehuris Montero.


Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past looks at notable events from Cardinals postseasons past.

    • October 14, 1985 – Ozzie Smith hits the first left-handed home run of his career in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Broadcaster Jack Buck gave his famous “Go crazy folks” call about this home run.
Enos Slaughter’s Mad Dash
  • October 15, 1946 – Enos Slaughter streaked home from first base on a Harry Walker single in Game 7 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. This event is known as the “Mad Dash”
  • October 15, 1964 – in Game 7 of the World Series against the New York Yankees, the Cardinals won 7-5 and became the first team with a losing record at the All-Star Break to go on to win the World Series. Bob Gibson was selected as the MVP, having struck out 31 hitters in three games.  Also, in this game, the Boyer brothers, Ken and Clete, hit home runs, Ken for the Cardinals, and Clete for the Yankees.  Both long balls were hit in their last at bats of the game.
  • October 15, 1982 – Willie McGee became the first rookie to hit two home runs in the same World Series game. The long balls were hit in the fifth and seventh innings off Brewers starter Pete Vuckovich.
  • October 16, 1985 – St. Louis first baseman Jack Clark hit a three-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning for the comeback win in Game 6 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. Via that win, the Cardinals were crowned National League Champions.
  • October 17, 2005 – Albert Pujols accomplished the same feat as Clark in 1985 by hitting a ninth inning, two out, three-run home run in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Astros’ pitcher Brad Lidge. The celebration was short lived, however, as the Astros won Game 6 and moved ahead on to the World Series.
  • October 19, 2006 – NLCS Game 7 against the Mets included several notable events. First was a catch by Mets outfielder Endy Chavez that robbed Scott Rolen of a two-run home run.  Then, in the ninth inning, Yadier Molina hit a two-run home run to make up for the robbed home run.  Finally, the famous curve ball from rookie reliever Adam Wainwright that froze Met Carlos Beltran to strike him out for the last out of the NLCS.  The Cardinals went on to win the World Series over the Detroit Tigers.

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