The Cardinals have announced the following transactions
9/8/20: After 2nd game of doubleheader, returned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the ATS.
9/10/20: Placed RHP Johan Oviedo on the COVID-19 Related IL. Activated OF Austin Dean from the COVID-19 Related IL. Added RHP Nabil Crismatt as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader. 40-man roster still full, CPP still at 57.
The major news here is Johan Oviedo. Oviedo does not have the COVID-19 virus. If he did, the doubleheader today would certainly have been postponed. Instead, as reported by Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch and Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat, on Tuesday night after the doubleheaders, Oviedo came into contact with a person who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus yesterday. We don’t know any more specifics about the encounter than that. John Mozeliak told the media that the contact happened when Oviedo was away from the club, he has not been around the club since, and Oviedo has tested negative and has no symptoms. There is a protocol outlined in the MLB 2020 Operations Manual for a player to return to work after a confirmed exposure. Basically it provides for a self-quarantine upon confirmation of the exposure until test results come back negative, more frequent temperature checks and enhanced symptom monitoring for 10 days, wearing a surgical mask at all times, and daily PCR saliva tests for 7 days following the exposure. The club has no concern at all that Oviedo has caused another outbreak.
The Manual specifically allows Oviedo to be placed on the COVID-19 Related IL because of the confirmed exposure to the virus. There is no minimum or maximum stay required on the COVID-19 Related IL, and there is also no set standard for how long a player who has confirmed exposure must be away. It looks like that for all practical purposes, the team is trusted to do what they think is safe. As the Cardinals are a club whose season was seriously interrupted by the virus, you can expect the Cards to be vigilant in making sure Oviedo’s exposure does not infect the team. Oviedo was supposed to start the Sunday game against the Reds on 5 days of rest, but that is now unlikely to happen. It is unknown when he will return. The most likely candidate to take that start would be Carlos Martinez, who would be working on 4 days of rest.
Oviedo’s placement on the COVID-19 Related IL opened up both a 40-man roster spot and an active roster spot for OF Austin Dean. Dean was named to the opening day 30-man roster, but did not get into any of the 5 games the Cards played before the season was interrupted and he was placed on the COVID-19 Related IL. Dean’s activation does seem strange, given that Dylan Carlson was just optioned on the grounds that he wasn’t going to see enough playing time going forward to justify his being on the roster. But is was either activate Dean, Junior Fernandez or Roel Ramirez. Those were literally the only choices the Cards had. Neither Fernandez or Ramirez (who allowed 4 homers in a row) looked sharp on the mound when they were here. This is probably not a firm situation, but for the time being, the Cards know that for this doubleheader at least, the club has 16 pitchers available with the 29th man, and they might get more out of a pinch hitter than they would a 17th pitcher they probably won’t use. The club could have recalled Carlson, but they specifically wanted Carlson to go back to the ATS to reset and work on some things. And they’re surely not worried about Dean, a non-prospect, sitting on the bench for an extended period of time,
The only player still on the COVID-19 Related IL that was placed there initially in August is Kodi Whitley, and he still has an elbow problem that has prevented his activation onto the active roster. It is unknown if we will see him again this year.
Oviedo’s IL placement seriously throws a wrench in the Cardinals’ rotation plans and at the worst possible time, and the Cardinals are already without KK. Stlcardsfan4 already noted the difficulties this morning in his article, and that was before he knew that Oviedo would be unavailable. Remember that the Cardinals now have no days off the rest of the year. Here is how it looks:
9/5: Wainwright and Gomber
9/8: Martinez and Ponce de Leon
9/9: Open date
9/10: Flaherty and Gomber
9/14: ? and ?
9/16: ? and ?
The Cards hope that Carlos Martinez can recover in time to pitch on 4 days rest and take the 9/13 start. If not, it’s all up for grabs. If Oviedo can’t come back by 9/14, then perhaps you could see something like Jake Woodford and Daniel Ponce de Leon for the doubleheaders on 9/14, Jack Flaherty on 9/15 and then Adam Wainwright and Austin Gomber for the doubleheaders on 9/16. Hopefully by then, either Oviedo, KK or both can come back and the bullpen pitchers’ arms haven’t fallen off by then. Either way, this is going to be a major test of stamina, determination, roster and bullpen management and organization all hopefully sprinkled with a little good fortune along the way.