Jason Motte injury leaves the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen without a closer, but still well-stocked

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals will likely start the season with closer Jason Motte on the disabled list.

I was hoping we were done shuffling the active roster, at least until opening day, but a surprise Jason Motte injury means it's time to look at the St. Louis Cardinals' Opening Day bullpen all over again. Here's what it looks like, following the abrupt, decidedly non-La-Russian announcement that Mitchell Boggs would take over the closer's role for the second time in his career. Assuming, as always, that the Cardinals will utilize a 12-man pitching staff:

Role Name
1. Closer Mitchell Boggs
2. RHP1 Edward Mujica
3. RHP2 Trevor Rosenthal
4. RHP3 Fernando Salas
5. LHP1 Marc Rzepczynski
6. LHP2 Randy Choate
7. Long Relief FREE SPACE

The primary beneficiary in Motte's absence—Boggs's new role aside—is Fernando Salas, whose excellent 2011 season has earned him little job security; when Rosenthal was installed in the bullpen in the first place he threatened to fall right off the end of the Cardinals' 25-man roster. Now he looks safe.

Also likely to benefit: The loser in the fifth-starter sweepstakes. Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller have forced two weeks of delays in the Cardinals' initial plans to name Chris Carpenter's replacement, and while the Cardinals could certainly choose to stow the loser in Memphis anyway, where he can remain in a starting role, nobody outside the competition (short of Michael Wacha) has distinguished himself as the Cardinals' next best reliever.

This bullpen is worse without Jason Motte—relievers are hard to predict and easy to uncover in strange places (like ex-catcher Motte himself), but we shouldn't forget just how good he was last season. But thanks to the Cardinals' vault-full of pitching prospects, it should be able to withstand his absence.

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