Sunday, October 7, 2012
Roster analysis: Cardinals-Nationals
By David Schoenfield
Breaking down the 25-man rosters for the Cardinals and Nationals:
St. Louis Cardinals
RHP -- Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Fernando Salas, Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte
LHP -- Jaime Garcia, Marc Rzepczynski
C -- Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz
IF -- Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, David Freese, Pete Kozma, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso
OF -- Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Jon Jay, Adron Chambers, Shane Robinson
The Cardinals elected to go with 12 pitchers, including 10 right-handers, and if you can find a way to use 10 right-handers in a five-game series, let me know. Wainwright will start Game 1, followed by Garcia and Carpenter, with Lohse in line to start Game 4. That puts Lynn in the bullpen, where he'll join Mujica, Boggs and Motte as the primary relievers.
Rzepczynski is the lone lefty in the pen and the obvious matchup for him will be Bryce Harper, who had an .869 OPS versus right-handers but .715 versus left-handers. Adam LaRoche slugged over .500 against both sides.
The Cards won't do anything too fancy on offense. It appears Descalso will the get start over Schumaker at second base due to his better glove. Kozma tore it up at the plate (.333/.383/.569) after replacing the injured Rafael Furcal at shortstop in September, but he's way over his head after hitting .232 for Triple-A Memphis. Mike Matheny could hit for him late in a game and slide Descalso over to shortstop.
Chambers is around as a pinch-running option and the Cards like to sub out Freese at third base late in the game for defensive purposes.
RHP -- Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, Christian Garcia, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen
LHP -- Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Burnett, Michael Gonzalez
C -- Kurt Suzuki, Jesus Flores
IF -- Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Steve Lombardozzi, Chad Tracy
OF -- Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Mike Morse, Roger Bernadina, Tyler Moore
Another team that elects to go with 12 pitchers, although Mark DeRosa (.180 average) would have been the only other viable position player to make the roster. (Although there were some calls to keep active Stephen Strasburg, who hit .277 with five extra-base hits, as a pinch-hitter.)
The Nationals will run out a rotation of Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Jackson, with Detwiler going in Game 4 if needed. The key guy to watch in the bullpen will be Clippard, demoted late in the season as the team's closer, with Storen reclaiming his old job. After posting a 1.93 ERA in the first half with no home runs allowed, Clippard had a 5.40 ERA in the second half with seven home runs allowed. He give up 21 hits in 13.1 inning in September, losing three games.
Davey Johnson won't have to rely on Clippard as his main setup guy as he has a deep arsenal of relievers, but since the Cardinals are heavily right-handed, there isn't much opportunity to match up. Switch-hitter Beltran has no sizable platoon split, so there isn't any need to flip him around to a weaker side. So expect to see a lot of Stammen, Mattheus and Clippard as opposed to Burnett and Gonzalez.
The Nats will roll out the same starting eight, but have some good weapons off the bench. Bernadina had a good season filling in when Morse was injured, hitting .291 with some speed, while Chad Tracy (lefty) and Tyler Moore (righty) provide solid pinch-hitting options.