ST. LOUIS – We’re getting closer to the midway point of the 2022 St. Louis Cardinals season. In the upcoming weeks, some pivotal decisions loom ahead that could impact the destiny of this year’s team.
Coming into Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals stand at 37-29 and carry a one-game NL Central lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. At their current pace, the Cardinals could finish around 91 wins and possibly secure a fourth-straight postseason berth.
The roster could look a little different from now to when the regular season ends in early-October. First-year manager Oli Marmol will look to navigate through some uncertainties, and the Cardinals face some tall tasks to solidify roles, fill some gaps and potentially readjust the roster.
Here’s a look at five roster developments to follow as midseason nears:
The 10-year veteran just began a rehab assignment Friday as he looks to work back from a calf injury. Dickerson has struggled in various starting opportunities between outfield and designated hitter, batting .194 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. With an influx of versatile fielders, the Cardinals will need to determine if Dickerson can hold a roster spot for the long haul. The former All-Star is on a one-year contract, but could become an odd man out for at-bats or a roster spot quickly without more production.
St. Louis’s top-rated prospect has cooled down slightly since his May 20 promotion. Gorman is hitting .181 in June and recently went 14 games without a home run until a mammoth-blast Saturday. Whether at second base or designated hitter, Gorman has played on a near-daily basis since his callup. The 22-year-old has shuffled around the lineup and occasionally sit against left-handed pitching among other adjustments. Perhaps the Cardinals are still trying to find the right balance between developing Gorman and winning ballgames. If that becomes trickier, an option back to the minors can’t be ruled out quite yet.
Longtime backstop Yadier Molina is set to miss some time with right knee inflammation, leaving Andrew Knizner and Iván Herrera as the primary options to start in his absence. Knizner has a rapport with most of the staff, but has struggled in high-leverage hitting situations with a .188 RISP batting average. Neither catcher has ever played more than 100 games at any professional baseball level, so a platoon could be in store. It’s not yet clear how much time Molina might miss or if the Cardinals might pursue another short-term option at catcher with more experience.
A bullpen with three southpaws might need some reconstruction, particularly due to the nature of how the left-handed relief arms are used. Génesis Cabrera is mainly limited to late-inning work in close games and rookie Zack Thompson only has a few games under his belt as a swingman. That leaves a lot of left-on-left assignments to T.J. McFarland, who has struggled with a 7.43 ERA over 26.2 innings pitched. Unless the Cardinals start using all three interchangeably against left-handed hitters, they might need to consider a move outside of the organization to beef up the bullpen.
Three spots appear to be solidified for the rest of the year, granted Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson stay healthy. How the Cardinals fill out the back end of the rotation for three-plus months remains a mystery. Jack Flaherty, who made his season debut Wednesday, appears on track to reclaim a regular rotation spot. The Cardinals have called upon five others for at least one start over the past month after injuries to Jordan Hicks and Steven Matz. A committee approach seems likely for at least one rotation spot unless one candidate starts thriving or the Cardinals trade for a more established hurler.