Devastation occurred just before the beginning of the season for the Cardinals in the loss of top-rated prospect Alex Reyes, who needed Tommy John Surgery. The loss left a significant hole in the starting rotation that Mike Matheny decided not to fill with any other prospect.
There have been questions about who will play in the infield and outfield after the return of Johnny Peralta and Stephen Piscotty from the disabled list.
We have to imagine Piscotty will start and play a majority of remaining games in right field as soon as he comes back. Until Dexter Fowler can get back to 100 percent, Tommy Pham and Magneuris Sierra will split time in center.
When Fowler returns to form, what does that mean for Pham and Sierra?
For now, Pham is the favorite to keep his place on the Cardinals roster because of his experience, with Sierra likely to return to the minors. However, it wouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise to see him back up if he keeps playing well and if injuries continue to plague St. Louis.
Perhaps Matheny’s decision to bring up the 20-year-old Sierra early on in the season could pave way for another talented youngster in Harrison Bader. Bader is currently ranked fifth on MLB Pipeline for Cardinals prospects, and with Randall Grichuk struggling, maybe Bader could be another answer to a struggling outfield.
As for the infield, there are talks of a possible trade involving Peralta as soon as he returns. With Jedd Gyorko playing some of his best baseball ever, the trade would definitely benefit the Cardinals.
So with Gyorko at third and Aledmys Diaz at shortstop, the only other question for the infield is who plays second base full time?
We’ve seen flashes of Kolten Wong, but he’s inconsistent. Matheny has given Greg Garcia some playing time, but not enough. With 4th rated prospect Delvin Perez only being 18 years old, he may not be the solution quite yet.
Wong seems to be the short-term starter for now, but there is always the possibility that Matt Carpenter moves back to second, leaving yet another hole open at first base. Though, that’s probably unlikely given Matt Adam’s inconsistency.
Now if the Cardinals run into any problems at pitching, they seem to be set for awhile.
Barring a successful recovery from Tommy John Surgery, Reyes will return next season. Luke Weaver’s also pitching lights out in the minors and is close to being called up.
The bullpen is pitching solid right now, but if they start to lose their spark, guys like Marco Gonzalez and Sandy Alcantara could be options.
With a farm system many experts say is one of the best in the MLB, the Cardinals most likely don’t need to look to free agency or trades to solve their problems. There are a lot of answers just waiting for their shot.
Grant Washburn contributed to this Sr. Louis Cardinals report