I admit it. I enjoy checking on teams’ 40-man roster scenarios. A maximum of 14 players can realistically be summoned by any team to replace injured players. Further injuries (at any level) chip away at other options. Looking at the Cardinals situation is informative as to how tenuous the candidates for an MLB call-up can really be. Here is a look at the roster scenario for the next visitors to Wrigley Field.
One problem for St. Louis this year has been Miles Mikolas. His not being ready early compromised their March and April pitching. Mikolas is back on the injured list after a four-inning start against the Cubs last month. Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Carlos Martinez, John Gant, and Kwang Hyun Kim were a solid enough rotation, left undisturbed, for St. Louis to lead the division through much of May. However, the non-leverage end of their bullpen had been a bit porous.
St. Louis had some other minor concerns that, if not linked to anything, wouldn’t matter at all. Two of their 40-man roster outfielders, and one of their pitchers, have been on their minor league injured list. Hitters Scott Hurst and Austin Dean haven’t played in awhile, and the same applies for Memphis Redbirds pitcher Johan Quezada. They aren’t valid call-ups. As injuries began to mount, Quezada, Hurst, and Dean weren’t valid considerations. Lefty reliever Andrew Miller was injured, farcing a much longer leash than desired for Tyler Webb. With Miller back, Webb has been DFAd.
Their system depth began getting severely taxed with the injury to Flaherty, after an injury placement to Kodi Whitley. Their rotation depth had eroded. With Flaherty gone for a while, Triple-A starter Johan Oviedo was the remaining option, despite a Triple-A ERA of 9.00 over two starts. Oviedo starts Friday against the Cubs With Kim injured, Daniel Ponce de Leon is likely going to be forced into the rotation, despite a lofty MLB ERA.
They have nobody else.
Specifically, their 40-man roster options are pitcher Bernardo Flores, catcher Ali Sanchez, and injured list options Whitley and Paul De Jong. With a 40-man spot open, after the Webb DFA, they can add someone. (They should have sent some extra money to the Cubs to get recent Cubs DFA Tyson Miller, who wound up claimed by the Rangers.) They’re not hopeless, but they’re awfully close to it.
If it gets as far as calling up pitchers from their Triple-A Memphis roster, of their 12 current pitchers with over five innings of work, Flores is the only one on their 40-man roster. He’s also allowed over a hit per inning, and almost six walks per nine innings in Triple-A. Prospects Thomas Parsons and Zach Thompson have been ordinary, Undrafted Bellarmine lefty Austin Warner is making a case for an MLB callup.
Double-A call-ups would have to go through Triple-A first, as Double-A players are not part of the current COVID-19 protocols. Andre Pallante looks ready for a Triple-A promotion, and Domingo Robles looks close. Prospect Matthew Liberatore has struggled with Springfield.
The Cardinals pitching depth is being severely tested. They got a bit of a gift when their schedule gave them two days off in four days before the Cubs series, but used Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright against Cleveland. John Gant is usually a solid enough starter, but tends to have shorter starts than desired. Beyond that? Your guess is as good as mine.