Before the Cardinals recovered from the COVID outbreak and resumed play, I wrote about how the Cardinals pitching depth was going to be tested and whether or not the team could handle it. It has now become clear that the team could handle it as nine pitchers have made their debuts due to this outbreak. However, there have been some impressive performances by these pitchers and some of them deserve to stay in St. Louis this season or at least compete for a roster spot next season.
Seth Elledge always looked like he would make his MLB debut in 2020, if 2020 was a normal season. The 24-year-old reached Triple-A last season and has always posted strong strikeout numbers in the minor leagues. However, eight strikeouts in four innings is impressive, even though it is a small sample size. Though, with Elledge’s history, it seems likely that he will have high strikeout rates in the MLB. The right-hander has given up some hard contact in his young MLB career, but he looks to have a bright future in the Cardinals bullpen with his ability to miss bats.
One of the bigger surprises was the strong performance of Nabil Crismatt who threw just two innings, but performed admirably at a time when the Cardinals probably wished they did not have to use him. The 25-year-old joined the team in the offseason after stints with the Mets and the Mariners. However, his lack of success in Triple-A, made him appear to be minor league roster filler for the Cardinals. Despite this, Crismatt seized his chance when it came to him, fanning three batters in 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings while flashing a nasty changeup with above average vertical and horizontal movement. His future does not appear to be nearly as bright as Elledge’s, but he may be given the opportunity to stay in the organization for another season.
Jake Woodford has also shown an ability to handle big league hitters in the five innings that he has thrown in the majors. The 23-year-old has struck out four batters while walking none and allowing just one earned run. The right-hander struggled a bit in the extreme hitting environment of the Pacific Coast League last season (5.54 FIP), but at just 23 years of age, Woodford appears to have some promise. He has been a starter in his entire professional career, and it is extremely difficult for any pitcher to have strong results in the PCL. He could be someone who can be a multi-inning reliever or even a starter in a pinch.
Other pitchers such as Johan Ovideo, who impressed in his debut start, Rob Kaminsky, and Ricardo Sanchez have all pitched well, despite it being unlikely for any of them to reach the majors this season. Oviedo in particular appears to have plenty of promise due to his solid minor league track record and impressive debut outing. Kaminsky also has a chance to become a solid big-league option and even Ricardo Sanchez has looked impressive at times.
One of the things where the Cardinals organization has experienced plenty of success is in its successful drafting and development of pitchers. The team has often had plenty of depth and has often seen its minor leaguers arrive in St. Louis and pitch well. This is a trend that has continued into this season, as the minor leaguers have been forced to cover some innings due to the COVID outbreak and have, for the most part, been successful. This depth should be an asset to the team for the rest of the season with the expanded roster, and it should bode well for next season as well.