ST. LOUIS- The Cardinals don’t have to announce the roster the team will field for next Wednesday’s Wild Card Playoff game against San Francisco or Los Angeles until next Wednesday morning, but that doesn’t need to stop us from wondering who could be in dugout for the winner-take-all matchup. You get 26 players.
Catchers: Yadier Molina, Andrew Knizner
Pitchers: Adam Wainwright, Giovanny Gallegos, Luis Garcia, Alex Reyes, Genesis Cabrera, T.J. McFarland, Kwang Hyun Kim, Andrew Miller, Dakota Hudson, Kodi Whitley, Jake Woodford
Infield: Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong, Nolan Arenado, Jose Rondon, Edmundo Sosa, Matt Carpenter
Outfield: Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, Lars Nootbaar
This gets us to 24 players. What about numbers 25 and 26?
A third catcher (Ali Sanchez) in case things get really crazy and we’re into extra innings? Edmundo Sosa’s hand injury is a concern, but there is no other infield depth on the 40-man roster that isn’t already in this group. They say you never have enough pitching, but looking at the available options, you do have to plan for what happens if the Cardinals win and advance to the NLDS (Mikolas?), Happ and Lester are veterans, but they’re also starters who don’t normally come out of the bullpen. Jack Flaherty’s future means they’re not going to gamble with bringing him out of the pen either. What about a hot bat? Justin Williams, who seemingly disappeared in the minors after the Cardinals sent him down earlier this year, has been on a tear in Memphis this week.
This would all change if the Cardinals advance to the Division Series. But first, the Cardinals have to get there.