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TA 4/30/21: Ponce de Leon to IL, Woodford Recalled

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The flurry of Cardinal roster moves continues, with the following transaction the club just announced:

4/30/21: Placed RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon on the 10-day IL, retroactive to April 29th (right shoulder inflammation). Recalled RHP Jake Woodford from the ATS.

The usage of Ponce de Leon this season has confounded all of us. Pressed into service in the Cardinal rotation to start the year with injuries to Dakota Hudson, Kwang Hyun Kim and Miles Mikolas, his first start was fine. He gave up three hits and one run in five innings. Then came the disaster start on April 11th against the Brewers, where he only faced 14 batters and got 4 outs. In the process, he gave up 7 earned runs (and he didn’t get hurt by a reliever allowing inherited runners), 3 unintentional walks and 6 hits, including 2 homers. Ponce did get let down by his defense a bit in that game, but he still had a real hard time finding the plate.

After that game, he said his arm felt dead and he had trouble lifting it. The Cards did not put him on the injured list at that time. On one day of rest after throwing 52 pitches, Shildt decided to bring Ponce into the game on April 13th against the Nationals in the 9th inning with the Cards ahead 14-1. After Ponce threw four pitches, he started shaking his arm and Shildt and the training staff came out to check on him. He said he was fine and stayed in the game, giving up two more walks, two bloop hits and another two runs.

Ponce next pitched on five days rest after that game, throwing 2 innings without issues against the Nationals in the bottom of the 8th with a 12-5 lead. His final game was on April 28th on eight days of rest. He pitched the top of the 9th with the club down 5-3 and only gave up one hit and no walks. He also made a very athletic play to jump for a ground ball and throw a runner out from his knees.

The timing of all of this is very odd. Ponce was not placed on the injured list when he said his arm felt dead and he couldn’t get the ball over the plate. Yet now that he’s been able to rest and throw a couple of games without incident and make an athletic play, he has shoulder inflammation all of a sudden? Woodford is now the next man up as the long man. While he was here earlier in the year, his strikeout (26.3%) and groundball (75%) rates were nice, but his walk rate (21.1%) was not. He only pitched four innings, so everything is going to be skewed.

As for Wainwright, it turns out that he was fully vaccinated, and this is just a precautionary measure. Carlos Martinez is scheduled to be bumped up a day to make the start on Sunday, May 2nd, and it is hoped Wainwright will be back with the club to start at home against the Mets on Monday, May 3rd. That just amounts to a swap of starting dates for Wainwright and Martinez. The club will need another starter for May 4th to stick with their 6-man rotation, 5-day rest plan. That start could go to Woodford or possibly Angel Rondon, but it will not be Johan Oviedo unless the Cards can invent another IL move.

With Elledge, Whitley and Woodford freshly recalled, the Cards still have a 9-man pen and three theoretically rested relievers.

ROTATION SCHEDULE

4/30: Gant

5/1: Flaherty

5/2: Martinez (4 days of rest)

5/3: Wainwright (6 days of rest)

5/4: ?

5/5: Kim

5/6: Gant

5/7: Flaherty

5/8: Martinez

5/9: Wainwright

5/10: Open date.

BULLPEN

Cabrera (L), Elledge (R), Gallegos (R), Helsley (R), Hicks (R), Reyes (R), Webb (L), Whitley (R), Woodford (R)

BENCH

Sanchez, Carpenter, Sosa, Dean, Williams