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TA 5/6/21: Flores Returned, Oviedo Optioned, Thomas Recalled

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MLB: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cards added a 27th man for the 2nd game of the doubleheader yesterday, and then had to get back down to 26.

5/5/21: Added LHP Bernardo Flores Jr. from AAA Memphis as the 27th man for the doubleheader and returned him to AAA Memphis after the game.

5/6/21: Optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to AAA Memphis. Recalled Lane Thomas from AAA Memphis.

The Cards’ schedule game against the Mets on Tuesday, May 4th, was postponed due to rain, which required the club to play a doubleheader yesterday. The rules allow a club to add a 27th man to the roster in that situation. But because the doubleheader was scheduled as a result of a postponed game earlier in the same series and the rescheduled game took place the day following the announcement to reschedule the postponed game, the 27th man was only available for the 2nd game.

The Cards decided to add lefty Bernard Flores, Jr. as the 27th man. The claimed Flores on outright assignment waivers from the White Sox on April 1st, and he was originally scheduled to start the game for AAA Memphis on Friday, May 7th. The Cards have a lot of injuries to the pitching staff right now, as Dakota Hudson, Jordan Hicks, Miles Mikolas, Andrew Miller and Daniel Ponce de Leon are all on the injured list. Johan Quezada, another 40-man pitcher was placed on the AAA Memphis 7-day IL to open the season. The only choices for a pitching addition were Flores, Junior Fernandez and Angel Rondon. The club thought it was probably more important for Rondon to be stretched out as a starter, so the choice really came down to Flores or Fernandez. Fernandez came on like a house of fire in 2019, rocketing from High-A all the way to the majors and had about a 30% strikeout rate at the major league level in 24.1 IP. But when 2020 came along, he caught COVID-19, and got hit hard in 3 appearances with the big club last year.

The Cards ended up going with Flores, and I wrote him up here when the Cards claimed him. He has been used by the White Sox as a starter, spent almost all the 2019 season in AA, and had a brief callup to the majors last year. The Cards used him last night in the 7th inning of Game 2, and he didn’t look very good. His fastball mostly sat at about 88 mph and he couldn’t get it over the plate. The result was a lot of pitches that looked like this:

Flores pitched to 3 batters, walked two of them and only threw 3 strikes out of 12 pitches.

The rules require that clubs immediately get back to a 26-man roster after the 2nd game of a doubleheader. As long as the 27th man had spent 10 days on option before being added as the 27th man, the club can get back down to 26 by making another roster move. I knew Oviedo was going to get optioned after his start because he wouldn’t be available to pitch for several days, the six-starter plan has now run its course with all of the off-days coming up and there is no plan to keep him in the major league pen. I thought the club might just option Oviedo last night and either keep Flores or recall Fernandez, who pitched last night for Memphis and struck out 3 out of the 4 batters he faced.

In an unexpected move, the club returned Flores last night, waited until today to option Oviedo and decided to recall Lane Thomas. We all know the travails of Thomas this season with his defensive miscues. Thomas opened the season at AAA Memphis and played right field for that club’s first two games. It was a mixed bag. He hit a double and a triple in the first game. The double was a shot to the gap in right-center where the ball dropped because the outfielder fell down, and the triple was a line drive into the right field corner. Thomas has also already struck out 5 times in 8 trips to the plate and walked only once. With 3 days off in the next 15 days, perhaps the club feels like an 8-man pen is enough and it could use another right-handed bat on the bench other than Edmundo Sosa. Or perhaps the club just changed its mind about keeping Flores after his performance last night.

BULLPEN

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

BENCH

Sanchez, Carpenter, Sosa, Thomas, Williams