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TA 5/15/21: Oviedo Optioned, Fernandez Recalled

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals-Workouts Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cards announced the following transaction in advance of tonight’s game against the Padres:

5/15/21: Optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to AAA Memphis. Recalled RHP Junior Fernandez from AAA Memphis.

It was a small sample size, but going into last night’s start against the Padres, Oviedo was leading the Cardinal starters in Hard Hit%, Average Exit Velocity and Whiff%. That is to say that although the Cards had not won any of the games that Oviedo started, he gave up some untimely home runs, but did not exactly pitch poorly. Last night, Oviedo couldn’t find the plate, issuing 5 walks out of the 13 batters he faced and could only get 6 outs before being removed from the game. The Padres are a patient club, but Oviedo still only threw 22 strikes out of 57 pitches.

The Cards optioned him to get another reliever with the club, as Oviedo won’t be able to pitch for several days. Another factor is that the Cards have days off on Monday, May 17th and Thursday May 20th, which means that his spot in the rotation will not come back around until Friday, May 21st. Carlos Martinez will be eligible to return to the rotation on that date, and the club expects that he will only miss the minimum required time.

Not only was Junior Fernandez on the traveling taxi squad (which means he was technically on the active roster of no club), but he was the Cards’ only other choice on the 40-man roster to recall. Johan Quezada is on the AAA Memphis 7-day injured list and Angel Rondon, who is being prioritized as a starter, pitched 4 innings in relief of Daniel Ponce de Leon’s 1-inning rehab stint Thursday night. Fernandez caught the COVID virus last season, and only pitched 3 innings over 3 games for the Cards in 2020. He has a devastating changeup, which works really well for him if he can get his upper 90s fastball over and make his slider a competitive pitch. At times he likes to pitch backwards and open with a surprise changeup, but the pitch is a strikeout pitch as well. So far this season, Fernandez has struck out 7 of the 13 batters he has faced against 1 walk, and he has allowed 1 homer out of his 2 hits.

This move returns the club to a 9-man pen, but they still have a 5-man bench because only 4 starters are on the roster.

BULLPEN

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