The Cardinals have continued to make moves over the past couple of days. I posted an article yesterday that covered everything up through the first game of yesterday. Roster moves continued yesterday between games of the doubleheader, and there are more moves to discuss today.
8/19/20: After Game 1 of the Cubs doubleheader, optioned RHP Jesus Cruz to the ATS. Purchased the contract of Johan Oviedo from the ATS. 40-man roster at 37.
After Game 2 of the doubleheader, returned RHP Jake Woodford to the ATS. Active roster back at 28.
8/20/20: Optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the ATS. Placed C Matt Wieters on the 10-day IL (left great toe contusion). Recalled RHP Jake Woodford from the ATS. Activated C Yadier Molina from the COVID-19 Related IL. 40-man roster at 38. CPP at 53.
I’lll just offer a brief treatment of Johan Oviedo. The Cards signed him as an 18-year old undrafted free agent out of Cuba on July 2nd, 2016. He’s been almost exclusively a starter in the minors. When he got to full-season ball in 2018, his strikeout rate dropped a bit, but his walk rate jumped significantly, and he has posted double-digit walk rates with both Peoria in 2018 (14.6%) and Springfield in 2019 (12.4%). He blew past the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season after only 6 games and 5 starts. Oviedo has spent no time at all in AAA.
Oviedo has been on the Cardinals’ radar screen for a while, as the club both invited him to spring training 1.0 back in February and made him one of the few non-roster invitee pitchers named to the Cardinals’ initial summer camp roster this past June. The young man is 22 and has a projectable starter’s frame at 6’6”, 210 pounds. With all of the COVID-19 issues and pitching needs, the Cards called him up yesterday between games of the doubleheader with the Cubs to start Game 2. He threw 89 pitches over 5 IP, tying Wainwright for the longest any of our starters have lasted in a game since the quarantine. He flashed 95 mph with his fastball with a curve and change, and showed quick reflexes, stopping himself from getting his head taken off with a bullet from Kyle Schwarber. Oviedo acquitted himself well in that start, and he looks like he can help the club this year in long relief or doubleheader starts at a minimum.
What happened with Woodford and Crismatt is a little tricky. Last night, immediately after the 2nd game of the doubleheader, the Cards returned Woodford to the ATS. The club did not report this on Twitter, but this was the move the Cards were required to make to get back down to 28 players. Woodford has not spent at least 10 days on option since he was optioned after the doubleheader on August 15th. The MLB.com transaction pages did capture it, but wrongly captured it as happening today instead of last night, and wrongly described it as an option, when it was merely a return.
It may look like at first glance that Wieters being placed on the injured list was just the corresponding roster move to make room for Yadier Molina on the active roster. Wieters and Knizner started 4 games a piece while Molina was gone, and this is probably now the end of Knizner’s playing time. But there was more to it. The Wieters move also allowed the Cards to get Woodford back. Despite being added as the 29th man for doubleheaders both yesterday and this past Monday, Woodford pitched in neither set. He hasn’t pitched since Game 2 of the doubleheader with the White Sox on August 15th. The Cards need more pitching and more innings as our starters are easing back into more traditional workloads and we are burning through relievers.
Making an injured list move with another player allowed the Cards to recall Woodford, despite the fact that he has not been on option for 10 days. The Cards don’t have another doubleheader scheduled until next Thursday, August 27th. If an injured list move had not been available, Woodford would have been able to come back as the 29th man for that doubleheader, but not before. He wouldn’t even be available for a full recall without strings until August 28th.
Now that the club wanted to get Woodford back, they had to option a pitcher. There’s no way the club would have optioned a position player, because they already only have a 3-man bench. I thought they might have wanted to option Oviedo. Not because he did anything wrong, but because he had just pitched 5 innings yesterday, and presumably wouldn’t be available at all for 3 or 4 days. If they optioned him, they could bring him back with extended rest as the 29th man for the August 27th doubleheader. Instead, the club decided to option Crismatt, who pitched both on August 17th and August 18th. Crismatt faced 9 batters, striking out 3 with no unintentional walks and 1 hit allowed over 2.1 IP.
I don’t have any truck at all with this decision, as it reflects the club’s desire to get Oviedo back out there as fast as possible and its conclusion that Woodford can help hold the fort down with long relief until Oviedo is available again. It’s not that Crismatt was bad, the club just wanted Oviedo around more.
The addition of both Oviedo and the restoration of Molina to the 40-man roster puts the 40-man roster now at 38. That means only two COVID-IL players can come back before the club must start making some cuts. With the roster now at 38, and 9 players still on the COVID-19 Related IL, the club will have to make 7 cuts. Seven is, of course, a more serious number than six, which was the DFA total until the 2nd game of yesterday’s doubleheader.
Starters (5): Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Kwang Hyun Kim, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jack Flaherty
Relievers (11): Genesis Cabrera (L), Seth Elledge, Giovanny Gallegos, John Gant, Austin Gomber (L), Andrew Miller (L), Johan Oviedo, Alex Reyes, Ricardo Sanchez (L), Tyler Webb (L), Jake Woodford
POSITION PLAYERS (2)
Catchers (2): Andrew Knizner, Yadier Molina
Infielders (6): Matt Carpenter (L), Tommy Edman (S), Paul Goldschmidt, Brad Miller (L), Max Schrock (L), Kolten Wong (L)
Outfielders (4): Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson (S), Dexter Fowler (S), Tyler O’Neill