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Transaction Analysis 9/25: Cards Likely Lose Gant for First Playoff Round; Crismatt Recalled

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St Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Cardinals announced the following transactions yesterday:

9/25: Added RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader. Between games of the doubleheader, placed RHP John Gant on the 10-day IL (right groin tightness). Recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the ATS. Returned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the ATS after the 2nd game. Also announced that RHP Roel Ramirez has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to the ATS.

After John Gant threw one pitch to the 2nd batter he faced in the game against the Cincinnati Reds on September 13th, he had to leave the game with right groin tightness. Instead of putting Gant on the injured list at that time, the Cards decided to rest him. They warmed him up in a couple of games, but didn’t bring him in to pitch again until September 20th against the Pirates. In that game, he helped preserve the Cards 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 8th, getting 2 groundouts and 1 flyout. According to manager Mike Shildt, after that appearance, however, Gant’s groin acted up on him again. He said he could go yesterday for the doubleheader. The Cards put him in in Game 1. He only faced one batter, allowing a base hit on an 89 mph sinker to Keston Hiura to lead off the top of the 6th inning, and something did not look right with his delivery. The training staff came out to check on him briefly, he was removed from the game, and the Cards made this roster move.

With that move, believe it or not, the Cards only had 17 pitchers on the 40-man roster not on an injured list. With Daniel Ponce de Leon up as the 29th man, the Cards had the choice to recall either Nabil Crismatt or Junior Fernandez, and the Cards picked Crismatt. Crismatt has allowed 2 homers in 6 games over 8.1 IP, but was only walked 1 man unintentionally against 8 strikeouts. Fernandez has allowed 2 walks, 1 homer and 6 earned runs in 3 appearances over 3 IP. Of those 6 earned runs, all were allowed in one appearance on August 28th. Two of those were due to Ricardo Sanchez inheriting 2 runners from Fernandez and allowing both of them to score. But the 4 runs Fernandez allowed on his own essentially were more in that one game than Crismatt has allowed over his 6 full games.

What does this mean for John Gant? Gant won’t actually spend 10 days on the injured list, because by rule, all players on the 10-day injured list must be activated from that list on the day after the MLB regular season is over even if they haven’t spent at least 10 days on the list. Just like players on optional assignment to the minor leagues are also officially recalled from that assignment on the day after the regular season is over. Does this mean that if the Cards make the playoffs, Gant will be immediately available?

Not so fast. Major League Rule 40(a)(2), which governs player postseason eligibility, provides that:

No player on the Injured List whose minimum period of inactivity has not yet expired before the scheduled start of the post-season series may be named to the roster for such series or otherwise replaced under this Rule 40.

This presents an interpretive problem. Players on the 60-day IL (or 45-day IL) are still on the injured list when postseason rosters are submitted, and are not automatically reinstated and added back to the 40-man roster until 5 days after the World Series is over (or the day after the World Series if they’re set to be an Article XX-B free agent). Clearly players on the 60-day injured list who have not spent 60 days (or 45 this season) on the list are not eligible for the postseason series. The NL Wild Card round is set to start on September 30th. Gant will not have spent the minimum 10-days on the IL by then, but there’s an argument to be made that he should be eligible anyway. The text of the rule is in the present tense using the phrase “on the injured list.” At the time postseason rosters would be submitted, by rule, Gant would not be on the injured list anymore. There’s a strong argument to be made that Gant would be eligible, and although I have not run across an interpretation of the rule in the context of a player on the 10-day IL, I think that argument would prevail.

The Cards, however, are unlikely to roster Gant for the first round if they make it. He’s already been removed from two games due to his groin injury. The club had him warm up, but gave him 6 days of rest the first time he hurt himself, and waited another 4 games after that to bring him in to pitch a second time. Unless someone else already on the postseason roster gets injured in the middle of a series, clubs can’t make roster switches once a postseason series starts. I doubt that the club will roster Gant for a 3-game Wild Card Round starting only 4 days after being removed from a 2nd game due to injury. The NLDS starts on October 6th, and if the Cards make it that far, the club could add him to the NLDS roster after a full 10 days of rest. I think that’s the most likely course.

UPDATED ROSTER

The roster you see here below is the updated roster the Cards have for the final games of the regular season. It is also likely the roster you’re going to see for the first round of the playoffs if the Cards make it that far, with the exception of one change. I predict that Daniel Ponce de Leon will replace Nabil Crismatt on the postseason roster, with the Cards electing to keep Ponce de Leon and Johan Oviedo over Crismatt for long relief protection.

PITCHERS (15)

Genesis Cabrera (L), Nabil Crismatt, Seth Elledge, Jack Flaherty, Giovanny Gallegos, Austin Gomber (L), Ryan Helsley, Kwan Hyun Kim (L), Andrew Miller (L), Johan Oviedo, Alex Reyes, Adam Wainwright, Tyler Webb (L), Kodi Whitley, Jake Woodford

POSITION PLAYERS (13)

Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters, Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Brad Miller, Rangel Ravelo, Kolten Wong, Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill.