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Transaction Catch-Up 5/21/21: O’Neill to IL, Martinez Back and More

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MLB: Colorado Rockies at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been out of pocket the last couple of days with family and work issues. In this article, I’ll get you caught up to date with the transactions the club has made over the past several days.

5/18/21: Optioned RHP Junior Fernandez to AAA Memphis. Placed OF Tyler O’Neill on the 10-day IL (left middle finger fracture). Activated RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon and 1B John Nogowski from the 10-day IL.

5/19/21 (after game): Optioned 1B John Nogowski to AAA Memphis.

5/21/21: Activated RHP Carlos Martinez from the 10-day IL.

The sky is blue, water is wet, Tyler O’Neill is injured. O’Neill broke his left middle finger sliding into second base for a stolen base attempt during last Sunday night’s game against the Padres and was removed from the game in the 7th inning. He is slashing .250/.290/.530 with 8 homers, with only a 2.8% walk rate compared with a 32.8% strikeout rate. The Cards hope that the latest O’Neill ailment will only cost him two weeks. He has already been cleared to resume baseball activities, whatever that means, so the club might not be foolish in this particular hope. In his absence, Justin Williams has been getting the playing time in left field, and we might see Lane Thomas against lefties. After a couple of days of experimentation, Edmundo Sosa has been getting the playing time at short.

Junior Fernandez and John Nogowski were only with the big club for a couple of days each. Fernandez only pitched the one day on May 15th against the Padres. Out of six batters faced, he allowed two walks and two hits with no strikeouts in one inning. If he can make the changeup an appealing pitch on strike one or establish better fastball command to get ahead in the count, he can be a very nice reliever. Nogowski made the club’s opening day roster, but went on the injured list with a bone bruise in his left hand back on April 23rd. While he was on his rehab assignment with AAA Memphis, he did not show the characteristic patience he has been known for, and walked only twice against 12 strikeouts in 36 trips to the plate. When I watched him early on, he looked like he was vulnerable to high heat.

Ponce made two brief rehab starts with Memphis, and didn’t allow a hit to any of the 13 batters he faced, but he walked 4 and struck out 3 over 3 total innings pitched. Ponce’s usage has been very strange this year, and one might wonder why the club now has both Ponce and Jake Woodford—two long me that Shildt doesn’t seem to want to use—instead of just sticking with a 5-man bench. The only answer I can give you is the club starts another stretch today of 17 games in a row without a day off. Carlos Martinez has been activated to start tonight’s game, and Miles Mikolas is expected to be activated to start tomorrow’s game, a move which should push John Gant to the bullpen and Woodford to AAA Memphis.

BULLPEN

Cabrera (L), Elledge, Gallegos, Helsley, Ponce de Leon, Reyes, Webb (L), Whitley, Woodford

BENCH

Knizner, Carpenter, Moroff, Thomas