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TA 4/29/21: Oviedo Optioned After One Start, Elledge Recalled

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals-Workouts Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Cards announced the following transaction before this afternoon’s game against the Phillies:

4/29/21: Optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the ATS. Recalled Seth Elledge from the ATS.

I really should have predicted this move in yesterday’s article when I covered Oviedo’s recall. Everything I said about the Cards’ plan to use a sixth starter was correct, but I was careless in concluding that Oviedo would take both turns as the sixth starter in the rotation through the games of May 9th. In my article I failed to anticipate that while the club might feel that Oviedo would be the best choice for both starts, he would be unavailable to pitch for five straight days after last night’s start under that six-starter setup. This fact has prompted the Cards to option Oviedo to the ATS. Between now and May 4th, which would have been Oviedo’s next turn in the rotation, the Cardinals will get an extra arm in the form of a 9th reliever. Oviedo will have to stay on option for at least 10 days, which means the club will probably recall Jake Woodford to make the start on May 4th. While the Cards probably prefer Oviedo for both starts, they feel like the extra reliever is more important in the interim five days. It also just so happens that May 4th is the opening of the AAA season at home in Memphis, and Oviedo will be able to start that game. You can still look at yesterday’s article for the rotation schedule, but just substitute Jake Woodford for Oviedo on May 4th.

The new reliever is Elledge, who was pressed into service last season because of COVID, and was the only pitcher added to the 40-man roster during the Cards’ virus outbreak that the club ended up keeping. He pitched in 12 games, and had a decent strikeout rate of 26.9%, but paired it with a 15.4% walk rate. Those aggregate numbers are a tad misleading, as out of the 8 walks he allowed, 5 of them were in his 2nd and 3rd appearance combined. He settled down after that. He struck out 5 White Sox batters over 2.1 innings in his debut game for the Cards last season on August 16th. Elledge is a classic sinker/slider guy, although last season he didn’t generate the ground balls one might hope for with that profile (39.3%). When batters swung at his slider, they whiffed 46.2% of the time.

The original final bullpen job going into opening day was said to be between Kodi Whitley and Jake Woodford. Both have been up with the big club this season. Woodford is likely waiting to make the May 4th start, which would be Oviedo’s next turn. Kodi Whitley was optioned on April 17th, and was available for recall. Why the club chose Elledge over Whitley for this recall, I can’t say, other than to speculate that the club just wanted to take a look at him.

BULLPEN

Cabrera (L), Elledge (R), Gallegos (R), Helsley (R), Hicks (R), Ponce de Leon (R), Miller (L), Reyes (R), Webb (L)