The Cardinals announced the following transaction in advance of what they hope is their final regular season game:
9/27/20: Optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the ATS. Activated OF Austin Dean from the 10-day IL.
I haven’t seen an official explanation for this move. With a 4-man bench for this game, it was extremely unlikely the Cards would run out of bench players. The club already had Rangel Ravelo as a right-handed option on the bench. Crismatt is fully rested, as he has not pitched in a major league game since September 15th. I suppose the Cards felt that if something happened to a starter early, they would use Johan Oviedo in a piggy back role to pitch multiple innings, and then if the game got close they would use their high leverage options.
Under that theory, it would be unlikely for Crismatt to be used, and 11 relievers just for this game would be overkill. And while it would also be unlikely that Dean would be used, it would still be more likely to use him than to get all the way to Crismatt out of the pen. Dean might actually stick around for at least the Wild Card Round if the Cards make the playoffs. With only 3 starters needed, including sticking with today’s roster would give the club 11 potential relievers, which is certainly overkill in a 3-game series. The Cards would get more mileage out of an extra bench player than they would a 12th reliever for sure.
In a normal season, you don’t see options to the minor leagues this late in the game. Not only was it not necessary due to expanded rosters, but clubs can’t option players to any minor league club whose season is over. If MLB is going to apply the rule that optioned players must still spend 10 days off of the active roster even with the regular season over, Crismatt would not be eligible to return until October 6th, which just so happens to be the first day of the NLDS. Officially all players are recalled from the minor leagues the day after the regular season is over, so I’m not for sure whether Crismatt would be eligible for the Wild Card Round or not. For now, the Cards have a 5-man bench.