A week ago, I proclaimed that premature playoff roster talk was about as useful as jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Well, maybe not that extreme, but you get the drift. Early predictions are useless for the most part, especially when done before your team locks down a spot and an opponent. So, now that the Cards have clinched the National League Central Division, let’s talk about who is on the roster and who is not. This isn’t official or should be considered right or wrong. This is my take and what I think needs to happen.
The Cards will include 25 men on their roster. Old history states that there should be 10 pitchers and 15 position players but with the Cards load of young pitching, I will suggest 11 pitchers and 14 position players. They are listed as such, with a small reason for each.
Adam Wainwright-The Ace. Dominated in September and a man who has thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings and won 5 straight starts to end the season.
Lance Lynn-He is my game 2 starter because he pitches very well on the road and deserves a start behind Waino in LA. He has grown as a pitcher and as a man in his third season of work in the rotation.
John Lackey-He starts the first game at Busch. He has pitched well there and turns into a bulldog in October. Remember last October?
Shelby Miller-He is here because of his massive turnaround in September. He dealt very important high quality starts down the stretch. He struggled in Chicago this last week but has shown a new found economical approach in getting outs. If Matheny doesn’t start him and puts in Michael Wacha, who pitched 5 innings once in the last three months of an injury plagued season, something is wrong here.
Trevor Rosenthal-Love or hate the guy in the 9th. He is the closer. 45 saves.
Pat Neshek-After an unreal first half that included a 0.57 WHIP(walks/hits allowed per innings), Neshek came back to earth in the second half. He allowed 11 earned runs in 29 innings and was more vulnerable. Innings load and BABIP factored in, but his 31 K-5 BB still sticks out as reliable to me. He’s the setup guy.
Carlos Martinez-The deadly bridge that opposing hitters will dare cross. El Gallo has pitched 13.2 innings in September and compiled a 0.66 ERA with 16 strikeouts. Finally, the deadly Carlos is showing up at the right time. He’s a late inning weapon.
Seth Maness-The Bullpen Phillips Screwdriver, jack of all situations, is on there after another strong season. Yes, he gives up the occasional bomb but he is so versatile and effective in a number of situations that without his work, the bullpen is a lot weaker.
Randy Choate-The one and down specialist…hopefully.
Marco Gonzales-He gets this spot due to his excellent relief work and spot starts during the past four weeks. 2013 fanatics will want Wacha, but I will take Marco’s deceptive changeup.
Matt Carpenter-The essential leadoff man. .372 on base percentage including 95 walks and 162 hits. On a team that struggled to score runs, he scored 99. Book it.
Jon Jay-Started out as the odd man out with Peter Bourjos and played his way onto the field and lineup. A solid .300 hitter who compiled a .372 on base percentage. You want guys at top who get on base.
Matt Holliday-He’s been there all season and led the team in RBI with 90. He cranked 20 HR and finished up very well in September, slugging over .520.
Jhonny Peralta-He was arguably the MVP of the team, with his defensive runs saved and overall hitting. Peralta broke the Cards single season HR record and added 38 doubles and above average defense. He supplied the stability that had been missing at shortstop. He starts here.
Matt Adams-He struggled with lefties all season so this is where the wildcard flavor of roster construction will come into play. The Dodgers will throw Clayton Kershaw at the Cards in this NLDS so who do you start? Xavier Scruggs has little experience and may be carved up by Kershaw. Adams may be hopeless but he supplies great defense and a bat that can light up at any moment. He also drew a few extra walks near the end of the season.
Yadier Molina-His bat wasn’t as productive post thumb injury but he collected hits and is the best catcher in baseball so he is in there. I don’t know what to expect from his bat in his series, but he has shown to be a steady playoff performer.
Kolten Wong-He is the best second baseman on the roster and deserves to start every single game of the postseason. My guess is Mike Matheny will convince John Mozeliak to put Mark Ellis on the roster so Mike can use Ellis in Game 1. The answer…Ellis played with Kershaw and therefore may do well against him. I go with Wong. He cracked 12 home runs, drove in 41 runners and stole 20 bases. He is also a fine defensive player with a chip on his shoulder from last October.
Randal Grichuk-Matheny has favored Randal in recent days and he will start for sure against Kershaw and Ryu if the Dodgers lefthander is healthy enough to pitch this week. Grichuk hit well in September, offers great defense and will get the Game 1 start.
Daniel Descalso-Why? He’s Matheny’s guy. He had some big hits in the season, offers average defense and will be there no matter what. Hate it all you want. He’s scrappy glue.
Mark Ellis-There is no statistical data from this season to back up Ellis being there but Matheny will preach his experience and he will be there. Unless Mo intervenes.
Tony Cruz-He’s Molina’s backup and that will not change. He can also pinch hit if…
A.J. Pierzynski is there. A.J. should be able to supply a bat off the bench and another catcher to help there. His spot isn’t as set in stone as the rest.
Peter Bourjos-Superior defense when it comes to range and speed on the bases. He will get a start in the LA series. He has tools that benefit a winning playoff team. His tentative baserunning and strikeouts worry me.
Oscar Taveras-If he doesn’t start against Zach Greinke, I don’t know what’s right or wrong in the world. Oscar didn’t blow up the opposition but he hit well in September and when he doesn’t get a hit, he hits stinging line drive outs. They don’t count for hits but if you are observant, they are frequent.
There’s 25 guys. I would like Pete Kozma to be there due to his great defense and ability to score a big hit. I would like Xavier Scruggs off the bench because he is a righthanded compliment to Adams. I just don’t see either of them making it. Kevin Siegrist isn’t close to right and barely pitched in September. Wacha isn’t fit to start a playoff game and isn’t as solid out of the bullpen. Justin Masterson and Jason Motte simply aren’t good enough right now. Nick Greenwood pitched very well but the bullpen already has 3 lefties.
This roster isn’t set in stone but it’s my best shot at seeing how it rolls out this week. October 3rd is Game 1. This Friday. Waino and Kershaw. Be there, Cardinal Nation.
The regular season is over. The real baseball is about to begin.