When the MLB season resumes it appears likely that it will be with a universal DH. This makes sense for 2020 because it will hopefully help prevent pitchers from getting injured as often as they are not in baseball shape. It will take work for them to get back into pitching shape, but they will likely not be able to get back into hitting shape. With the way that the year has gone, this could cause plenty of pitchers to get hurt at the plate. This is also an idea that has been discussed before, and it would not be crazy for it to become a permanent change to the league. This season will allow the MLB to test the idea without making the change permanent. However, if it works well, it would not be surprising to see a lot of people across the league push for it to become permanent.
This could create added offensive firepower in the National League, but it would also remove some interesting tactical maneuvers such as late game double switches. However, this could allow the Cardinals the chance to create some more offense. It would also have the same effect for other teams; however, there have been times where the Cardinals have struggled to score and there is the potential for a designated hitter to help alleviate some of those problems.
Additionally, the Cardinals have no shortage of players that could fill that role for the team, especially in the upcoming season. Players such as Lane Thomas and Tyler O’Neill could benefit as this would allow for both players to play even though there is only one open outfield spot. Additionally, if Dylan Carlson stakes his claim to the Cardinals lineup, then he will be playing both offense and defense. This could allow the Cardinals to give at-bats to some of the other younger outfielders who are not able to break into the field. Other beneficiaries could be Matt Carpenter and Tommy Edman. It appears likely that Edman will be deployed in a utility role that allows him to play regularly, but at different positions. Witha universal DH, One of the two could have opportunities to hit, while the other plays in the field as well. This could be especially useful for the Cardinals if Carpenter has an offensive resurgence, but the team wants to put the younger and more athletic Edman in the field.
Another interesting candidate could be Rangel Ravelo. The first baseman saw plenty of pinch hit at bats for Mike Shildt last season and the Cardinals specifically made it a point to bring him back this season. Earlier in the offseason, Ravelo apparently had discussions with a KBO team about playing in Korea, but the Cardinals did not allow him to go becausethey saw him as playing an important role for the team this year. A DH in the National League would give him the chance to have a more regular role with that could potentially allow him to settle in and hit the ball better than he did last season. He had a wRC+ of just 70, but he did hit two home runs in just 43 plate appearances. While these results are not great, he hit the ball well in Memphis for three years before becoming one of Mike Shildt’s favored pinch hit options late in the season. Clearly the Cardinals thought that he was worth keeping around and he may get a change at a more regular role this year.
Regardless of who fills the role, the Cardinals may benefit from a universal DH this season. If this rule becomes permanent, then the Cardinals have plenty of depth that could allow the team to put another solid hitter in the lineup while also giving more at-bats to MLB-ready prospects.