If you’ve listened to the most recent Musial and/or Gateway, you know that I’ve not necessarily been completely transfixed by this whole Summer Camp thing. Maybe that’ll change a little bit tomorrow when the Royals come into town for what should at least approximate a real game, but having to find the game on a electronic device rather than turning on FSMW and the fact that they are going up against themselves has made it hard for me to really invest in this return of baseball.
Still, we are reaching the end of the line, with limited activity (if not an entire off day) today and then the one exhibition game, so we probably should draw SOME conclusions, shouldn’t we, even if they are terribly erroneous and not really based in fact? Well, before we get to any sort of rampant speculation, let’s go over what we learned last night.
For one, the rotation is set. Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez. In other words, pretty much exactly what you would have expected four months ago, if it wasn’t for Mikolas’s injury. Not exactly the order that you’d expect, but as Jason Hill from Viva El Birdos pointed out, it gives Waino a couple more home starts. (Did we talk about this on a post already? This series is really running all together. Thank goodness it’s almost over.) I’m not sure how much Busch Stadium will actually play a big role for Wainwright this year, as he’s always been one that seems to feed off of the crowd (which obviously won’t be there), but given how he’s done in the past it’s definitely worth trying out.
We also know that the club is likely to start with 16 pitchers, which is less than what some folks were expecting. Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon have been told they are on the team, so that’s seven of them. Andrew Miller, Tyler Webb, Brett Cecil (unless they cut him, which honestly is still a good possibility given that he didn’t seem to show much in camp that I know of) will be there. That’s 10. Junior Fernandez, John Gant, and Kwang Hyun Kim should be there as well. That’s 13.
The other three spots may depend on how much people show they are healthy. All indications are the club wants to have Giovanny Gallegos “go north” (which is a real misnomer given that they are already in St. Louis) and he could easily take one of them. It would be surprising if Ryan Helsley didn’t have another one. Who takes the final spot, though? Do they add someone like Kodi Whitley to the 40-man, knowing that when rosters start to reduce in size and when players like Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera are ready, Whitley could be back on the way to Springfield? Honestly, I think that’s probably the way they go. They’ll need arms going back and forth this season and getting Whitley on the 40-man would make a lot of sense long-term.
Also, there’s some talk now that KK could be the closer to start the year off, which is a new twist that many of us didn’t see coming. On the one hand, MLB hitters won’t be used to him (of course, he won’t have the most familiarity with them either, but I think in this case the advantage is with the pitcher). No idea how it will translate, but he didn’t have overwhelming strikeout numbers in the KBO, though he’s not Dakota Hudson either. We’ll see how long this goes. If Hudson stumbles, does Kim get first dibs at the rotation? If Helsley is dominant, does he move to the ninth? Feels like there’s not a lot of things in stone out there with this move, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
So who makes up the 14 hitters? You’ve got the obvious–Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters, Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Tommy Edman, Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Rangel Ravelo. That’s 11. Assuming he’s healthy enough, Brad Miller is 12 (I keep forgetting he’s a Cardinal) and you’d think Lane Thomas is 13. Speculation is that Austin Dean is going to make the roster, so that would be the final bat.
Without knowing how things pan out, you’d guess Dean and Whitley would be the most likely cuts to get to 28, with Thomas and probably Fernandez going when it has to get to 26. (Who goes when Reyes and Cabrera need to return, I have no idea.)
Seeing a roster take shape is exciting to see. It’s nice to have some shape and normalcy happening for once.
As for how these guys did in camp, Carpenter seems to have his stroke back. We’ll see if it’s a function of knowing the pitchers, but just the little I saw of him the whole approach seemed better, more confident, and I feel much better about him being productive. I think Tyler O’Neill will do well with the regular playing time and I think that’s one reason Thomas will get sent down early on. How they get Dylan Carlson to the majors and when still is something that’s up in the air. There’s not a lot of easy demotions, especially since much of that roster doesn’t have options remaining.
Pretty soon, we’ll have stats to analyze and results to ponder. Perhaps then, the excitement will return!