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TA 8/29: Ponce and Others Optioned in a Flurry of Roster Moves

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Cleveland Indians v St Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals announced an array of roster moves this morning before the game against the Indians:

8/29/20: Optioned RHP Junior Fernandez, RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon and IF Max Schrock to the ATS. Placed LHP Ricardo Sanchez on the 10-day IL (left elbow pain). Recalled RHP Seth Elledge, LHP Rob Kaminsky, RHP Ryan Meisinger and 1B John Nogowski from the ATS.

SETTING THE STAGE

Last night, Daniel Ponce de Leon threw 41 pitches and could only get 2 outs before Mike Schildt removed him from the game. Three relievers faced more batters than Ponce did: Jake Woodford, Junior Fernandez, and Ricardo Sanchez. Both Woodford and Sanchez threw more pitches, and Fernandez was only two pitches shy of Ponce’s total. The effect that this will have on the ptiching staff for the next couple of days is enormous. I thought it would be useful to illustrate the state of the relief corps.

Cabrera: Should be available on 2 days of rest

Fernandez: Threw 39 pitches last night to get 3 outs and faced 10 batters

Gallegos: Could probably go on 1 day of rest, although he was not sharp on Thursday

Gant: Has pitched every other day since August 23rd, probably available on 1 day of rest

Gomber: Pitched 2 innings on August 27, may be available on 1 day of rest

Ovideo: Not available for at least 3 days after pitching 5 innings on August 27th

Reyes: Should be available on 2 days of rest

Sanchez: Pitched 2 innings last night, threw 55 pitches and faced 12 batters.

Webb: Pitched on back-to-back days

Woodford: Not available for at least 3 days after pitching 3.1 innings last night and throwing 63 pitches, with 14 batters faced.

COUNTING DAYS ON OPTION

Without any special rules, there were only three pitchers available for recall. Roel Ramirez was optioned on August 17th. Rob Kaminsky was optioned on August 18th. And Ryan Meisinger was optioned on August 19th on the morning of the doubleheader with the Cubs. Each one of those three pitchers would have been normally been available for recall. Jesus Cruz was optioned on the same day as Meisinger. Why, then, was Meisinger available and Cruz not not normally available? The answer is the rule on counting days on option. Article XIX.E of the Collective Bargaining Agreement spells it out:

For purposes of counting days on option, the date of the optional assignment shall be counted and the date of recall shall not be counted, provided that the date of the optional assignment shall not be counted if the assignment takes place after the start of a Major League game in which the Player otherwise would have been eligible to play, and the date of recall shall be counted if the recall takes place after the start of any Minor League game in which the Player was eligible to play.

Meisinger was optioned on the morning of the doubleheader on August 19th, before the games started. Thus, August 19th counts as a day spent on option for him, and thus he has spent 10 days on option and was eligible for recall today. Cruz, on the other hand, was optioned on August 19th between games of the doubleheader to make room on the active roster for Johan Oviedo to start the 2nd game that day. According to the rule quoted above, August 19th does not count as a day on option for Cruz because the option took place after a game in which he was eligible to play, specifically Game 1 of the doubleheader that day. He is, therefore, not available for recall until August 30th. Nabil Crismatt would not normally have been available for recall until August 30th for the same reason. The Cards announced on August 20th that Crismatt was optioned after the games on August 19th the day before. Since his option took place after games in which he was eligible to play, his 10-day option clock started on August 20th.

Seth Elledge normally wouldn’t have been available for recall until September 3rd. He was optioned on August 23rd. After spending 4 days on option, he was added as the 29th man for the doubleheader against the Pirates on August 27th. That day does not count as a day on option, and when he was returned to the Alternate Training Site after the games, that was not considered a new option that restarted the clock. You can think of his addition as the 29th man as a one day pause on his original option clock. Yesterday resumed the clock, and he would have had to spend 5 more days on option starting today.

But because the Cards put Ricardo Sanchez on the IL, that created the opportunity to recall a player that otherwise would not have been available under the 10-day option rule, and out of Crismatt, Cruz and Elledge, they chose Elledge. I’m not 100% sure why the Cards optioned Schrock and recalled Nogowski. My guess is that with DeJong back on the roster, and Edman not necessarily having a secure starting job every day, Schrock was more of a redundant player on the roster and the club preferred to have a potential right-handed power source off of the bench.

The most notable of the options was Ponce. He has lost his rotation spot, and it looks like Johan Oviedo will take his spot in the rotation for the time being, according to Jeff Jones, who seems to be tweeting in the middle of a press meeting with Mike Schildt. Ponce has 1 minor league option remaining, but I highly doubt it will be burned this year. With all of the doubleheaders coming up, I would expect the coaching staff to work with him at the Alternate Training Site to try to sort out his control problems, and for him to be back up in a long relief role before the season is over. Any of the pitchers that were recently optioned will be available to be added as the 29th man, and I think you can expect that Cards to mix and match the 29th man for different purposes for the entire month of September.

UPDATED ROSTER

PITCHERS (15)

Starters (5): Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Kwang Hyun Kim (L), Johan Oviedo, Jack Flaherty

Relievers (10): Genesis Cabrera (L), Seth Elledge, Giovanny Gallegos, John Gant, Austin Gomber (L), Rob Kaminsky (L), Ryan Meisinger, Alex Reyes, Tyler Webb, 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), John Nogowski, Kolten Wong (L)

Outfielders (4): Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson (S), Dexter Fowler (S), Tyler O’Neill

The Cards still have a 4-man bench. On most days the bench will be Knizner, Nogowski, plus two random players as Shildt rotates the DH and rests outfielders so that Carlson can continue to play.