The Cardinals have announced their roster for their National League Division Series showdown against the Braves, which kicks off in about six hours when Game 1 starter Miles Mikolas squares off against lefty Dallas Keuchel in Atlanta. Here’s their full roster:
- John Brebbia
- Jack Flaherty (Game 2 starter)
- Giovanny Gallegos
- Ryan Helsley
- Dakota Hudson
- Carlos Martinez
- Miles Mikolas (Game 1 starter)
- Daniel Ponce de Leon
- Adam Wainwright
Notable absences from the roster include right-handers Michael Wacha and John Gant. Wacha has long been a fixture on the Cardinals’ pitching staff but suffered a mild shoulder strain in his final outing of the season — a performance that could prove to be his final game as a Cardinal. The 28-year-old will become a free agent at season’s end, and his up-and-down season ultimately came to a close with middling end results: a 4.76 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 126 2/3 innings. Wacha was twice demoted to the bullpen but returned to a starting role in each instance. The Cardinals could, of course, explore a reunion this winter, but they have a solid trio in Flaherty, Hudson and Mikolas — to say nothing of Carlos Martinez and perennial wild card Alex Reyes. They’ll also surely consider another deal with Wainwright, if the venerable rotation workhorse wishes to continue playing. Even if the Cards do seek a starter this winter, they may prefer more stability than Wacha can offer.
As for Gant, he opened the season as perhaps the Cardinals’ most reliable reliever, but his 2019 campaign took a sharp turn for the worst in late June. The 27-year-old, acquired in the 2016 swap that sent Jaime Garcia to the very organization the Cardinals will face in this series, carried a sub-2.00 ERA past the midpoint of June. He was torched for four runs in a third of an inning on June 23, however, and seemingly never regained his form. Gant allowed runs in 14 of his final 30 appearances this season, pitching to a 7.11 ERA the rest of the way. He pitched a total of 41 innings through the Cardinals’ first 74 games but logged just 25 1/3 frames from that point forth despite never landing on the IL or being optioned to the minors.
It’s also of note that the 24-year-old Arozarena has cracked the postseason roster. A fairly high-profile signing out of Cuba a few years back, Arozarena split the majority of the season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he posted huge numbers at both levels. He appeared in only 19 games in the Majors as a September call-up, though, and totaled a mere 23 plate appearances in that time. The Cards could’ve opted to bring Tyler O’Neill along to provide some pop off the bench, but they’ll instead opt for Arozarena’s superior speed and defensive versatility, as he’s capable of playing all three outfield spots.
As for the rest of the Cardinals’ rotation beyond Mikolas in Game 1 and Flaherty in Game 2, it’s a bit up in the air. Manager Mike Shildt indicated that Hudson is tentatively in line to start Game 3 but will also be available in relief in Games 1 and 2. If he does come out of the bullpen, Wainwright would get the nod in Game 3 with Hudson potentially starting the fourth game depending on when and how he is used (link via Anne Rogers of MLB.com).