ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals announced their Opening Day roster on Thursday ahead of Friday's regular-season opener.
There are only 29 names, and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said that the roster will likely stay at 29 for a day or two to give reliever Giovanny Gallegos -- who is on the undated injured list -- a few extra days to get ready. Gallegos was delayed getting to camp until this past weekend, but the team was encouraged by what he was able to do from his home in Mexico during the delay. Gallegos threw batting practice at Busch Stadium on Thursday, and the Cardinals want to make sure he recovers well before putting him on the active roster.
“I think that’s why we’re waiting to make this decision,” Mozeliak said. “If we really thought this was going to take another week or two, obviously we’d rethink the roster. … We didn’t want to bring someone up for a day or two when we don’t feel like we’re in desperate need and then have to option them out where we then lose them for 10 days. We’re just trying to create as much flexibility as possible right now.”
Here who has made the Cardinals’ roster.
No surprise here that the veteran Molina was a lock for his 16th consecutive Opening Day start. This is the final year of Molina's three-year contract; the 38-year-old has said he would like to play two more years, at least. His backup will be Wieters, who re-signed with the Cards in January. Knizner, St. Louis' No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, made a case for his bat to be available off the bench, and he can also serve as a backup catcher if Wieters is used as the left-handed option off the bench. Knizner will be available to catch any bullpen sessions to continue his development.
“Sixty-game season, Yadi’s probably going to try to push through as many games as he historically can,” Mozeliak said. “Obviously, trying to make sure that [Knizner] is getting developed is going to be important, but it’s going to be a challenge to do so in this environment.”
The Cardinals will likely rely on Goldschmidt’s bat for all 60 games, mostly at first base, but also as designated hitter. Ravelo can play first base and some outfield, if needed, and he’s also been getting in reps at third base during Summer Camp.
Second base: Kolten Wong
Wong has second base and the leadoff spot covered, and the Gold Glove Award winner figures to build on his career year of 2019 both defensively and offensively. Wong was scratched from Wednesday’s exhibition lineup because of stiffness in his neck, but manager Mike Shildt said that shouldn’t prevent Wong from playing in Friday’s game. Tommy Edman will also see some playing time at second base as he moves around the field defensively.
The Cardinals are encouraged by the work Carpenter has done -- including a reworked swing and focus on driving the ball to left field -- to revive his production. His role could look a little different, though. He’ll get some time as DH, opening up playing time for Edman. To get Edman’s bat in the lineup regularly, the Cards will give the versatile defender playing time all over the infield and perhaps some time at DH. If Edman is needed elsewhere and Carpenter has the day off or is the DH, Edmundo Sosa can also play third base.
In 2019, DeJong hit 30 home runs, was a big part of the Cardinals’ defensive turnaround and made his first All-Star Game. He’ll look to build on that this season at shortstop and from the cleanup spot.
With Brad Miller on the injured list with bursitis in his right ankle, Sosa will provide infield depth and a bat off the bench. The Cards were impressed with the strides Sosa made during the offseason, spring and Summer Camp to make better contact at the plate and be more versatile on the field.
The Cardinals’ Opening Day outfield will likely see Fowler in right field, Bader in center field and O’Neill in left. St. Louis has committed to seeing what O’Neill and Thomas -- who can play all three spots and slot in if production falters with the starters -- have before turning to the outfield depth that includes top prospect Dylan Carlson. After an impressive Summer Camp, Dean provides a bat off the bench and is someone the Cards can turn to for production quickly if needed. Dean has also taken reps at first base.
Flaherty, Wainwright and Hudson are this weekend’s starters against the Pirates at Busch Stadium. Mikolas and Martínez will start next week’s series against the Twins on the road. For Martínez, it will be his first start for the Cardinals after two years of working in relief, including last year’s stint as their closer. After working back to a starter’s regimen, staying healthy and impressing the Cards with his dedication, he will get the chance to start again.
Martínez’s move to the rotation prompted the Cardinals to name Kim their closer for Opening Day. In his first relief appearance on Wednesday, the lefty made quick of the Royals, striking out three on 16 pitches. The Cards like how quickly Kim warms up and what he’s able to do to hitters in limited looks. If he isn’t available on any particular day, St. Louis has Milller, Helsley and Gant to step in as closer. The Cardinals had advertised 16 pitchers on their roster but only announced 14.
Whitley was added to the 40-man roster after the Cardinals released lefty Brett Cecil on Wednesday. Fernández, Ponce de Leon and Gomber also have made their first Opening Day roster. The latter two will be the long-inning relievers, especially to start the season as the Cards stay flexible with their starting pitching based on arm strength and matchups. Ponce de Leon and Gomber also could be seen in high-leverage situations. Gomber, Miller, Webb and Kim are the four lefties in the bullpen.