The Cards announced the following transaction this morning:
8/23/20: Optioned RHP Seth Elledge to the ATS. Activated SS Paul DeJong from the COVID-19 Related IL. 40-man roster at 38. CPP at 53.
Elledge pitched in 3 total games for the Cards over 4 total IP. He had a wonderful debut against the White Sox on August 16th, striking out 5 of the 7 batters he faced, while allowing no hits or walks. He struggled in the other 2 performances, each of which he was pitching on 1 day of rest. On August 18th against the Cubs, he faced 6 batters, walking 2 and allowing 1 home run against 2 strikeouts. And on August 20th against the Reds, he allowed a double and 3 walks in just 1 IP. Yadier Molina caught a man stealing which prevented the inning from having a worse outcome. Elledge did fortunately pick up the win when he struck out Eugenio Suarez with the bases loaded and Raisel Iglesias imploded in the bottom of the 9th. With Elledge, it was a mixed bag. He obviously showed that he has strikeout potential, but he struggled to find the plate at times.
The interesting question going forward will be how the club handles the playing time between Matt Carpenter, Tommy Edman and Brad Miller. When Miller was on the shelf to start the season, Edman was the starter at 3B and Carpenter was the starting DH against right-handed pitching. Since DeJong has been on the injured list, Edman has started at shortstop every day but one, acquitting himself just fine at that position defensively. With DeJong back in the lineup, what will the Cards do? We know it’s a small sample size, but Edman is 2nd on the club in plate appearances with 62, and he has struggled mightily, slashing .214/.290/.339, and striking out 4 times as much as he walks (12 SO to 3 BB).
You might take a look at Edman’s .350 OBP last season, and think all is well, but last season, his OBP was inflated by 15 points because he got hit with a pitch literally every other day for the last week of the season. His walk rate of 4.6% was in the bottom 7% of the league, and he’s right around that same mark now. His strikeout rate of 19.7% is actually a touch below league average, if you can believe that (league average is 21.7%!) He hasn’t shown the exit velocity or power so far that he did for the last month of 2019, and with no patience at the plate, Edman is going to live or die by his speed and BABIP. He’s been a little unlucky in the latter regard (.256 BABIP, compared to last year’s .346), as there’s almost a 40 point difference between his wOBA (.276) and xWOBA (.314). Edman’s problem this year, is that he hasn’t been able to hit breaking pitches. When he does swing at them, he misses a full one-third of the time, and his xWOBA on breaking stuff is a measly .211.
Today DeJong is back in the lineup at short, with Edman on the bench, Brad Miller at 3B and Carpenter back at DH. What do you think should happen going forward? Do you think Brad Miller and his .348/.467/.696 slash line over 30 PA are even remotely close to legit? He only had 18 batted balls, so it’s probably a tad premature. But even if Miller’s BABIP is an uncharacteristic .375, according to Statcast, he’s actually been unlucky with his xWOBA (.533) outdistancing his wOBA by almost 70 points! He’s obviously not the best defender out there, but he does have a strong arm and has made some good plays. Meanwhile, Carpenter has 58 PA and is slashing .200/.310/.300 with a 31% strikeout rate. He has the one grand slam, but he hasn’t shown the power to justify that level of strikeouts. And his BABIP of .290 is in line with his career levels.
All of this analysis just scratches the surface, and is worth further study. But it will raise interesting lineup questions going forward. With DeJong locked in at shortstop for sure, Shildt going to have to allocate playing time between Edman, Carpenter and Miller. What will Shildt do? What do you think he should do? Last season, he had no trouble benching Carpenter for Edman when Carpenter struggled and Edman got hot for a month or so. Would he bench the struggling Edman now and ride the hot hand with Miller?
I’m actually surprised that the Cards didn’t option Max Schrock because I’m not sure how much work he’s actually going to get. This move takes the Cards down from 16 pitchers to 15 pitchers, which gives them a 10-man pen. It also adds one player to their bench, which now stands at 4. Perhaps Shildt wanted a bit more flexibility to rest his regulars so they don’t get worn out by the end of the season. The doubleheader gauntlet doesn’t pick back up until September 5th, but it’s worth noting that the Cards do not have a day off until September 3rd.
The Cards’ 40-man roster is now at 38, which means the Cards can add 2 more players from the COVID-19 Related IL before they have to start making 40-man roster trims. Six players will have to be removed from the 40-man to accommodate them. An additional player will also have to be removed from the CPP.
Starters (5): Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Kwang Hyun Kim, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Jack Flaherty
Relievers (10): Genesis Cabrera (L), Giovanny Gallegos, John Gant, Austin Gomber (L), Andrew Miller (L), Johan Oviedo, Alex Reyes, Ricardo Sanchez (L), Tyler Webb (L), Jake Woodford
POSITION PLAYERS (13)
Catchers (2): Andrew Knizner, Yadier Molina
Infielders (7): Matt Carpenter (L), Paul DeJong, 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