In Part 1 of this two-part series, I explained in detail why the St. Louis Cardinals should not need significant minor league call-ups in September. In a nutshell, the reason is that as many as eight major leaguers are working to come off the disabled list and rejoin St. Louis for the final month.
Because of a very tight 40-man roster and the eight other potential additions, I am predicting two call-ups, both of whom have St. Louis experience and are already on the 40-man – Dean Kiekhefer and Miguel Socolovich.
Here is a table illustrating how the active St. Louis roster would grow to the very considerable size of 35 players in the above scenario.
|September adds (10)||60-day DL return (3)||15-day DL return (5)||Minors on 40-man (2)|
|Pitchers (6)||Lance Lynn||Michael Wacha||Dean Kiekhefer|
|Jordan Walden||Trevor Rosenthal||Miguel Socolovich|
|Position players (4)||Brayan Pena||Aledmys Diaz|
|60-day DL adds (1)|
Because three of the eight injured Cardinals are currently on the 60-day disabled list, the fact the 40-man roster is full and just one current player not yet on the 40-man is clearly out for the season (Seth Maness), two other players would have to come off the current 40-man just to allow all eight to be activated.
In this case, the openings would have to be sourced from the five remaining 40-man roster players who I predict will not be called up. They are listed in the order in which I think they would be removed from the 40-man. In this scenario, I see infielder Dean Anna and outfielder Anthony Garcia most likely to lose their 40-man spots.
|No Sept. promotion (5)||Minors on 40-man|
|(two 40-man removals||1. Dean Anna|
|needed)||2. Anthony Garcia|
|3. Jose Martinez|
|4. Michael Ohlman|
|5. Mike Mayers|
The gap between being brought up to St. Louis in September and being taken off the 40-man roster could be very thin indeed, especially for the above five.
If one wanted to look at the list of five from the bottom up, they would be the next-most likely September additions, in my opinion. They would begin with starting pitcher Mike Mayers, followed by the man who would essentially be the fourth catcher for the final month in Michael Ohlman and finally, outfielder Jose Martinez, an offensive leader of the Memphis lineup since being purchased from Kansas City in May.
I see three other players currently at Triple-A Memphis who could be viable candidates for addition to the 40-man roster and to make major league debuts in September – if it wasn’t for the space crunch, that is. Fortunately, the Arizona Fall League prospect showcase offers an ideal – and even perhaps a better - alternative for catcher Carson Kelly, outfielder Harrison Bader and left-handed reliever Ryan Sherriff to continue to improve. That is my best guess where the trio will finish their 2016 seasons.
|Top promotion candidates|
|not on 40-man||Carson Kelly|
|(to Arizona Fall League?)||Ryan Sherriff|
Some may also see infielder Breyvic Valera and first baseman-outfielder David Washington as potential 40-man candidates, but I consider them a tier below the aforementioned group. Further, given the roster crunch and my sense that their MLB futures are unlikely, I don’t see them being added in September, without a wave of unexpected injuries in St. Louis.
A more likely scenario
In my opinion, the above example is too optimistic in its view that all eight injured Cardinals will return in September. The reality is that the clock is ticking on the 2016 schedule. The minor league regular season has less than two weeks remaining, meaning most of the injured major leaguers may be trying to come back without the benefit of playing minor league rehab games first.
Three of them, however, are already on that path. Lance Lynn and Brayan Pena are currently playing in rehab games at A-Advanced Palm Beach, and Jordan Walden is apparently right behind. That makes their chances to reach St. Louis next month considerably better. They are the three on the 60-day DL currently, needing the aforementioned three 40-man spots.
However, we know very little about the potential recovery plans for pitchers Michael Wacha and Trevor Rosenthal. If they don’t start throwing very soon, I think their returns would have to move to the doubtful category. In fact, they may already be there.
The return of the injured Matts – Adams and Holliday – also is up for debate. The former has a shoulder injury about which nothing of substance has been communicated and the latter is trying to come back from thumb surgery conducted within the last week.
The best chance of returning among the injured players not yet rehabbing seems to be shortstop Aledmys Diaz. I say that because his hairline thumb fracture occurred back on July 31 - though the Cardinals’ original hope of the rookie returning at the beginning of September feels unlikely to me.
As you can tell by the quick summaries above, there is a non-zero chance that at least several of the five of the 15-day DL players do not make it back at all in 2016. As long as that total is two or more, then Anna and Garcia would not have to lose their 40-man roster spots. I still don’t think the pair would be called up, however. In fact, I think the Cardinals would be quite satisfied competing in September with 33 players instead of 35.
As mentioned above, Mayers would have the best chance of joining the September promotions if both Rosenthal and Wacha cannot return, for example. But again, I am not predicting that at this time.
However, just to carry this scenario one step further, if Rosenthal and Wacha cannot make it back, they could be moved to the 60-day DL themselves, creating room to add two more players, such from the group of Kelly, Bader and Sherriff. I still think the three will be Arizona-bound, instead, though.
Another factor that could change matters is new injuries to others the rest of the way. If the Cardinals’ unfortunate run of bad luck that began earlier in August continues, one or more of the non-call-ups could find their status changing.
The bottom line
When all is said and done, I think at least Wacha and Rosenthal will not make it back this season, with Holliday and Adams the next least likely to return. Moving the two pitchers plus Maness to the 60-day DL would create the three openings on the 40-man roster to accommodate the returns of Lynn, Walden and Pena. I predict only current 40-man roster players Kiekhefer and Socolovich will be promoted from Memphis in September and no first-time 40-man additions will be made. This would get St. Louis to 33 active players.
|September adds (8)||60-day DL return (3)||15-day DL return (3)||Minors on 40-man (2)|
|Pitchers (4)||Lance Lynn||Dean Kiekhefer|
|Jordan Walden||Miguel Socolovich|
|Position players (4)||Brayan Pena||Aledmys Diaz|
|60-day DL adds (3)|
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