The Cardinals announced some roster moves prior to today’s doubleheader, with right-hander Dakota Hudson coming up as the “29th man.” Additionally, outfielders Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill are swapping places, with Carlson coming off the IL and O’Neill heading onto it due to a left hamstring strain.
The injury to O’Neill is a bit ominous it was a left hamstring strain that sent him to the IL for about a month earlier this year. An injury of similar severity would keep him out of action until mid-October, but O’Neill seems optimistic that won’t be the case. John Denton of MLB.com relays word from the outfielder that it’s a Grade 1 strain, which is the lesser kind. Perhaps O’Neill can avoid a lengthy absence, though he will miss at least the next ten days. With just over two weeks remaining on the schedule, anything beyond a minimum stint will make it difficult to return during the regular season.
Of course, the Cardinals are a virtual lock to play in the playoffs, since they are 7.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central. A deep postseason run would give O’Neill more time to return to the field and get back into a groove, though the Cards will likely have to play the first round of the playoffs. This year, the top two division winners get a bye past the Wild Card round, but the Cardinals are well back of the Dodgers and 5.5 games behind the East-leading Mets.
O’Neill’s campaign got off to a rough start, though he righted the ship a bit recently. Before going on the IL in June, he was hitting just .241/.292/.361, but has hit a much better .214/.323/.423 since returning. The combined batting line amounts to a 100 wRC+, exactly league average, though O’Neill has accrued 1.2 wins above replacement thanks to his baserunning and defense, in the eyes of FanGraphs. With O’Neill out, Carlson will step into the outfield mix and try to keep the club from missing a beat. He has also spent some time on the IL this year, going on the shelf once due to a hamstring strain and then a thumb sprain. He’s hitting just a hair above league average overall, as his .240/.316/.386 batting line amounts to a wRC+ of 101. Thanks to strong work in center field, he’s produced 2.3 fWAR in 112 games. He will likely get regular work up the middle, flanked by Corey Dickerson and Lars Nootbaar.