September 29th 2019, The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the Central Division Title by soundly beating the Chicago Cubs 9 - 0. Next up is the Atlanta Braves Thursday Oct 3, in Atlanta.
At this point no roster has been named nor has a starting pitcher/rotation been named. So here goes my best guess
Starting line up.
Lets start with the Outfield.
Right now it is accurate to say that both Marcel Ozuna and Harrison Bader are in slumps. Fowler has also been struggling as well but is still getting on base. Career wise Ozuna has the more RBIs vs the braves than any other team (58) Fowler has hit .260 with a .395 OBP vs the braves in hs career. Harrison Bader .323 2HR 7RBIs vs the braves for his career. However this year is a different story for Ozuna, .130 2HR 4RBI and Fowler, .105 1HR 1RBI. While Bader this year is hitting .333 with 2 RBIs. Jose Martinez is .250 1HR 2RBI for his career .188 0HR 1RBI this year. We have seen Randy Arozarena excel when he gets in but he has not played against Atlanta. Tyler O'Neill has 1 hit in 2 career ABs vs the Braves and 1 RBI. I think Ozuna is a safe bet to start given his power potential. I thin Fowler who has generally done well from lead off will start. While Bader is probably a lock to start game one I don't think that Shildt will be shy about inserting Arozarena in the line up to generate offense in any of the three OF positions. so you have 4 players for 3 positions
Next the Infield
The infield defense has been outstanding this year. Kolten Wong living up to the hype from last year. Paul DeJong has been rock steady at SS even Carpenter has bee much improved at 3B. most of the uptick can be explained by the addition of Paul Goldschmidt. Tommy Edman has been a huge insertion into the line up in terms of generating offense currently with a .304/.350/.500 15 for 16 in stolen bases. and has played in the outfield as well. Lately filling in for an injured Wong Edman is .407/.515/.630 in short there is NO WAY he will not be on the NLDS roster either at 3B or 2B if Wong can't go. 5 players for 4 positions
Yadier Molina, Nuff said. I mean is there another better option?
the Cardinals have only used 7 starters this year. Currently with Wacha nursing an injury the playoff rotation is set at 4. All that needs to be determined is the rotation order.
Jack Flaherty - has emerged as the ACE of this staff. hi second half numbers this year dare I say Cy Young worthy. 7 - 2 0.91ERA, 0.715WHIP, 124SO vs 23BB, in 99 1/3 IP. in 15 games. Dakota Hudson - After a rough April he posted 4 - 3 with a 2.05ERA, 1.222WHIP in May and June, he went 4 - 1 in July even though he posted a 5.47ERA with a 1.633WHIP he has been very good in the 2nd half. 9 - 3 with an elevated ERA of 3.17 and a 1.275 WHIP.
Adam Wainwright - Has had an up and down season With strong home stats .256ERA 1.295WHIP in 95 innings at Busch. Although his last game vs the Cubs was dismal giving up 6 runs in 4 1/3IP. 11 runs in the last 9 1/3 IP.
Miles Mikolas - This season for Miles has been lackluster at best. He did manage 184 IP in 32 games and had the only complete game on the staff. 9 - 14 with a 4.16ERA but only a 1.223WHIP with 146SO to only 29BB. the biggest issue haunting him has been run support 10 of his14 losses (covering 11 games) the Cardinals have scored 2 runs or less.
Common logic has the rotation for the playoff looking like this Mikolas game 1, Flaherty game 2, Wainwright and Hudson drawing games 3 and 4 @ Busch and Flaherty available for game 5 if needed.
Carlos Martinez He will be the closer sporting a 3.17ERA with a 1.179WHIP. He is 4 - 2 with 24 Saves.
John Gant has been with few exceptions been getting done in terms of the middle relief. Although Gant had a rough September though, with a13.50ERA in 9 games only going 4 IP One could argue keeping him off the NLDS roster and let him throw side sessions giving him time before NLCS to "get right"
John Brebbia - Like John Gant has had a uncharacteristically bad September giving up 6 runs in 7 1/3 IP as a comparison he gave up only 8 runs in July and August combined in 25 2/3IP Hopefully both he and Gant with the playoff break can do what they need to do to get out of their collective funk.
Giovanny Gallegos - Has been nothing short of dominant since being called up April 11th. Getting the win against the LA Dodgers going 3 - 2 with 1 save, a 2.31ERA and a 0.811WHIP, 93 SO against 16 walks he has slowly developed into the Set Up role often asked to get 4 outs I see no way he is not pitching in post season.
Andrew Miller - signed as a LH specialist/set up/ back up closer MIller has had his ups and downs. His last two games in the Cub series to end the year were exact opposites 9/27 he faced 5 batters allowing 4 ER on 4 Hits, 1 BB, 1SO and 1 hit by pitch in 1/3 of an inning. 9/28 3 batters faced 1 hit , 0BB and 1SO. After and up and down first half in July he seemed to get things turned around with a 1.80ERA, 1.100WHIP going 1 -1 with 2 saves. he had some issues in Overall the second half has been very good for MIller giving up a total of 9ER in 13 Sept games. earning 6 Holds and 1 save. I think I will take the odds he is due for a good stretch of games.
Tyler Webb - the often maligned lefty of the staff actually had a decent year a 2 - 1, 3.76ERA, 1,018WHIP 1SV and 8 Holds in 65 games.
Others in the mix for the pen Ryan Helsley, Daniel PonceDeLeon, Genesis Cabrera(LH) and Dominic Leone of these it is Helsley and Cabrera that peak the most interest. Leone has given up 2ER in 11 2/3IP but has been used sparingly.
Helsley has thrown 36 2/3I in 24 games with a 2.95ERA, 1.255 WHIP and 32SO.
Cabrera 4.87ERA has not allowed a run in 3 of his last 4 games.
PonceDeLeon could be the long man from the bullpen. he has proven this year to better from the pen than as a starter 2.57ERA, 1.071WHIP and a 3 to 1 SO/BB
So my bullpen guess is because of off days and the lack of LH bats in the braves line up. I think 7 arms in the pen for the NLDS. Martinez, Gallegos, Helsley, Miller, Webb, Brebbia and PonceDeLeon.
Bench If my math is correct that leaves me with 4 spots left
Obviously Matt Wieters C, gets 1 spot. Solid experienced back up and a left handed bench option as well.
Jose Martinez OF, as a pinch hit bat who can play OF and 1B.
Andrew Knizner C, carrying 3 catchers may seem extreme but when you consider that with Wieters being a LH pinch hit option having another catcher to spell Yadi in a double switch could be an advantage
Yario Munoz IF, With Edman you have flexibility but no real SS option Munoz can fill that option.
So to recap
OF Ozuna LF, Bader CF, Fowler RF
IF Edman 3B, DeJong SS, Wong 2B, Goldschmidt 1B
Mikolas, Flaherty, Wainwright, Hudson
Closer - Martinez
Set Up - Gallegos, Brebbia
LH - Miller, Webb
Middle Relief - Helsley, PonceDeLeon
Bench - Carpenter IF, Munoz IF, J. Martinez OF, Arozarena OF, Wieters C, Knizner C.
That is my thoughts.
Reach and let me know what you think here or on twitter @bortas2002