SO SAD: 4 Cardinals Players Won’t Return To Play Again Due To…

4 Cardinals players who won't be on the roster by July 1 and who should  replace them

The St. Louis Cardinals had been playing better baseball in May, but have now lost or split each of their last three series heading into this week’s NL Central showdown against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

St. Louis is 31-33, which has them in the mix with just about every other National League team for a Wild Card spot, but they’re 7.0 games back of first place in the NL Central.

Perhaps the Cardinals can go on a run and try to compete with the Milwaukee Brewers who are currently in first place when they get healthier.

There’s some good news on that front, as several key contributors are expected to return sometime in the not-too-distant future. With that in mind, it’s hard to envision these four players surviving on the MLB roster past July 1.

4) Kyle Leahy should be replaced by Giovanny Gallegos
The Cardinals have fared well late in games despite Giovanny Gallegos, one of their best relievers in recent years, not looking like himself on the mound and missing time due to injury.

Gallegos appeared in 13 games and was abysmal, allowing 12 runs in nine innings of work. That’s a 12.00 ERA for those keeping score. He had allowed five home runs which feels impossible in just nine innings of work, and he had been seeing lower-leverage opportunities before landing on the IL with a right shoulder impingement in early May.

Gallegos hasn’t been splendid in his four rehab appearances, but the fact that he has made that many implies that he’s close to a return. As for who he should replace, that’s where the inexperienced optionable reliever steps in.

Kyle Leahy’s 4.82 ERA in 12 appearances isn’t as bad as it looks since he allowed four of the ten earned runs he has given up in one outing, but he’s an inexperienced reliever with options who is not a major piece of the bullpen. It’s really hard for that type of pitcher to remain on the active roster for a long period of time.

He’ll be back as he can provide length out of the bullpen, but this is an easy move for the Cardinals to make once Gallegos is good to return.

3) Chris Roycroft should be replaced by Steven Matz
Speaking of inexperienced optionable relievers, Chris Roycroft is another one who fits that to a tee. Roycroft made his MLB debut earlier this season and has a 3.38 ERA in his eight appearances out of the bullpen, but is another replaceable low-leverage reliever for Oli Marmol.

Taking Roycroft’s place should be Steven Matz, who just made his first rehab start five days ago. Matz had been sidelined since late April with a lower back injury, and the Cardinals hope that his time away will allow him to regroup after a rough start.

Matz was one of the only good pitchers that the Cardinals had last season but he had really taken a step back to start this season, posting a 6.18 ERA in six starts and 27.2 innings of work before his injury.

Matz is an important piece as the team’s fifth starter, so the Cardinals hope he’ll look like the 2023 version of himself when he makes his return.

2) Michael Siani should be replaced by Lars Nootbaar
After Victor Scott II struggled mightily as the Cardinals’ starting center fielder, the Cardinals turned to defensive specialist Michael Siani to take over in that role.

While he hasn’t hit much at all, Siani has been as advertised defensively, ranking in the 99th percentile in OAA according to Baseball Savant.

He’d be a nice fit as a fourth outfielder, but once Lars Nootbaar makes his return off the IL, the Cardinals will have to make a choice.

They’ll either have to demote Siani or Dylan Carlson. As poorly as Carlson has played, it’s hard to envision him being the choice considering his years of experience.

Nootbaar is a player that seems to have lots of trouble staying on the field, but is one of the most important hitters in the lineup when he plays. Hopefully he can get going after his rough start before his most recent injury.

1) Pedro Pages should be replaced by Willson Contreras
When Willson Contreras went down with his left forearm fracture, it truly felt as if the Cardinals season was over. They had gotten off to a rough start as a team, and Contreras was virtually their only hitter doing anything.

He had a .950 OPS before landing on the IL in early May. Fortunately, the Cardinals have not only managed to remain afloat but have put together a winning record in his absence.

Ivan Herrera hasn’t been as good as Contreras was, but he’s hitting .282 since Contreras went down as the team’s starting catcher.

As encouraging as that has been, moving Herrera to a backup role and having Contreras start again is in everyone’s best interest.

As for Herrera’s backup, Pedro Pages is likely going to get sent down when Contreras makes his eventual return. Pages has just two hits in 22 at-bats in the 12 games he has appeared in this season, proving that the Cardinals could use an upgrade.

Carrying three catchers doesn’t make much sense, so Pages will almost certainly get sent down once Contreras makes his return, which could be sooner than expected.

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