It’s time to get caught up on the Cards’ transactions over the last couple of weeks:
7/13/22: Optioned LHP Matthew Liberatore to AAA Memphis. Activated RHP Drew VerHagen from the 15-day IL. Noted the loss of RHP Angel Rondon to the San Francisco Giants on an outright assignment waiver claim.
7/14/22: Optioned OF Lars Nootbaar to AAA Memphis. Activated LF Tyler O’Neill from the 10-day IL.
7/15/22: Placed RHP Dakota Hudson on the 15-day IL (neck strain). Placed DH/OF Juan Yepez on the 10-day IL (right forearm strain). Recalled LHP Zack Thompson and OF Lars Nootbaar from AAA Memphis.
7/17/22: Placed RHP Drew VerHagen on the 15-day IL (right hip impingement), retroactive to July 15th. Activated LHP Steven Matz from the 15-day IL.
7/24/22: Placed LHP Steven Matz on the 15-day IL (sprained left knee). Recalled RHP James Naile from AAA Memphis.
7/25/22: Placed C Austin Romine, 3B Nolan Arenado and 1B Paul Goldschmidt on the Restricted List. Recalled C Ivan Herrera and OF Conner Capel from AAA Memphis as COVID-19 injury substitutes. Selected the contract of IF Corey Spangenberg as a COVID-19 injury substitute. 40-man roster at 38.
Dakota Hudson went down with a neck strain the day after a July 14th start against the Dodgers in which he hit three batters. His neck had apparently bothered him not only in that game, but in his two previous starts. He made a rehab start for AAA Memphis on July 24th, going five innings, and allowing five hits and one run. He walked three batters, struck out six and threw two wild pitches.
Steven Matz returned from the injured list on July 17th after an almost two-month absence due to a left shoulder impringement. Matz was expected to start that day against the Reds, but the game was rained out, and the club had the next four days off for the All-Star Break. The Cards slotted into the rotation on July 23rd, the club’s second game back from the break. In the bottom of the 6th inning with one out, Joey Votto tapped a slow roller down the first base line. Matz raced over from the mound, and cut in front of the bag in an attempt to field the ball. He deflected the ball to his right in an attempt to make a scoop. When he attempted to shift his body in the opposite direction, he slipped and messed up his left knee. Initially called a strain, we have now been told Matz tore his MCL. Manager Oli Marmol said he could either be done for the year if he requires surgery, or the best-case scenario is that he recovers with enough rest and rehab, which could take 4-6 weeks.
After these pitching moves, the Cards have a theoretical 10-man bullpen. Although guys like Johan Oviedo and Zack Thompson could make a start, the club expects Hudson to be back in the rotation, and can go with a four-man rotation until August 6th if they have to because of all the off-days. Here is how it would shake out:
7/25: Open date
7/28: Open date
8/1: Open date
Assuming the club doesn’t count on Matz coming back this season, the Cards are in dire need of another experienced starter. Everyone past Wainwright and Mikolas is suspect for one reason or another. The club doesn’t trust Jake Woodford to step in at this time, Johan Oviedo hasn’t measured up, Matthew Liberatore has been up and down, and the Cards have preferred Zack Thompson in the bullpen
Now for the lovely conversation about the unvaccinated players. Canada doesn’t allow anyone in the country who hasn’t been vaccinated, so the Cards can’t take anyone to the series against the Toronto Blue Jays who is not vaccinated. Austin Romine, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have chosen not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As far as I can tell, no one has bothered to get a quote from Romine on his vaccine stance. Goldschmidt said that after consulting with doctors, he determined that “the potential risks of taking the vaccine outweigh the potential benefits. Arenado told the press that he just didn’t feel like he needed to get it because he is a “very healthy man.” He also mentioned that he and his wife were discussing starting a family, and that he’s choosing to do what’s best for he and his family. According to the Associated Press, the choice will cost Romine $10,989, Arenado $384,416 and Goldschmidt $241,758. I’ll just say that I think it’s a preposterous decision and move on.
Since the trio’s inability to play in Toronto is treated as essentially a voluntary, unexcused absence, the Cards had to place them on the Restricted List. That takes them off of the 40-man roster, and as I stated above, the players will not be paid. Although the three are not injured, the Commissioner has allowed clubs in this situation to use a new rule that was instituted to allow clubs experiencing a COVID outbreak to add players to the roster as substitutes. In the case of Spangenberg, who was not on the 40-man roster before today, the rules allow him to be added to the 40-man and then removed from the 40-man at the appropriate time without designating him for assignment or risk losing him on outright assignment waivers. The other two replacement players, Ivan Herrera and Conner Capel, are on the 40-man roster. There is a new rule this season that limits the number of times a player may be optioned to the minors within a season. The COVID substitute rule allows the Cards return those two guys to the minors without it being considered an option.
This is only a two-game series, and the Cards are facing two right-handers. Tonight’s lineup will feature Albert Pujols at first base, Brendan Donovan at third base, Corey Dickerson at dh and Lars Nootbaar in right field. Basically your bench for the series will be the three guys called up as replacements plus Edmundo Sosa.
Wainwright, Mikolas, Pallante
Cabrera (L), Fernandez, Gallegos, Helsley, Hicks, McFarland (L), Naile, Naughton (L), Oviedo (R), Thompson (L)
Herrera, Spangenberg, Sosa, Capel