December 7, 2023

There was a second within the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ Nationwide League Division Sequence Sport 2 towards Arizona this week when Kolten Wong got here as much as pinch-hit for host LA.

David Peralta had simply been lifted for a pinch-hitter two batters earlier. Wong would face a Diamondbacks reliever who had simply changed Zac Gallen, all whereas Joe Kelly warmed up within the Dodgers’ bullpen not too removed from fellow LA right-hander Shelby Miller. Kelly was preparing for the highest of the seventh inning, when he would face Arizona designated hitter Tommy Pham. And the entire time, proper there, watching from the railing of the Dodgers’ house dugout was graybeard, Lance Lynn.

Not a Cardinal in sight and nonetheless so many Cardinals concerned.

The inevitable and predictable breakout star of this yr’s postseason, following within the footsteps of Randy Arozarena c. 2020, can be a former Cardinal. Adam Wainwright, in fact. However former Cardinals are additionally scattered across the fields of October whereas all the present Cardinals have migrated house for winter. That one scene at Dodger Stadium featured seven former Cardinals, and an eighth was someplace within the Dodgers’ dugout.

Persons are additionally studying…

That very same evening, headed to Texas the place Adolis Garcia roams and stars was Jack Flaherty within the Baltimore bullpen. Cheering on his teammates as they took Sport 1 within the different NLDS earlier was Phillies infielder Edmundo Sosa. The record goes on.

The Cardinals have pollinated the playoffs.

That impressed a query.

Effectively, extra of a dialog.

Would a roster of homegrown Cardinals be a playoff staff?

Reset the trades. Reclaim the departed free brokers. Rewind all of these strikes. Ignore the fact of the roster churn and essential offers and contemplate, for enjoyable, the potential for a Voltaire roster — the place a staff tends to its personal backyard.

Maintain all of these homegrown gamers at house.

Construct a Cardinals roster out of the gamers the Cardinals drafted or signed as amateurs and developed inside their group. How would a roster composed fully out of “unique” Cardinals look? And the way would possibly it fare given probably the most highly effective, inconceivable, and bulletproof predictive instrument of all of them: hindsight.

Begin with the Cardinals’ season-ending roster, their lineup for that last week, after which retrace their roster strikes going again to the 2006 draft. Pulling from these drafts and people worldwide signing lessons, it’s doable to outfit an entire 26-man roster utilizing energetic gamers. There isn’t a Nolan Arenado or Paul Goldschmidt on it. No Miles Mikolas (signed as a free agent), no JoJo Romero (commerce with Philly), and no Lane Thomas, both (he was drafted by Toronto). It might appear {that a} staff like that with out its MVP cornerstones would don’t have any probability, and but …

I used present efficiency and upside to make some determinations or sided with’s Wins Above Alternative as a tiebreaker. In every case beneath I do attempt to level out the WAR chief.

So, let’s begin with a homegrown Cardinals’ rotation:

1. Sandy Alcantara, RHP (20.0 WAR)*

2. Zac Gallen, RHP (17.0 WAR)

3. Lance Lynn, RHP (29.7 WAR)

4. Michael Wacha, RHP (13.0 WAR)

5. Jack Flaherty, RHP (10.1 WAR)

* Alcantara just lately had Tommy John Surgical procedure to rebuild his proper elbow and he’ll miss the 2024 season. This train relies on having all gamers talked about out there and wholesome, although at their present age. Let’s not get too loopy with the what-if, what-could-have-been situations.

That’s fairly right-handed. The highest lefties candidates can be Marco Gonzalez (8.5 WAR), who might slide into the fifth spot and bump Flaherty to the bullpen, and Austin Gomber (3.1 WAR), who was a part of the Arenado commerce with Colorado. The 5 listed above are the highest 5 in relation to profession WAR. The following group consists of Gonzales and Shelby Miller (8.9 WAR), however there’s a task forward for the previous first-round choose who was traded for Jason Heyward.

And that will be within the homegrown bullpen:

Nearer: Ryan Helsley (4.1 WAR)

RHP: Adam Ottavino (14.9 WAR)

RHP: Jordan Hicks (1.6 WAR)

RHP: Andre Pallante (1.6 WAR)

LHP: Zack Thompson (1.3 WAR)

RHP: Johan Oviedo (2.0 WAR)

RHP: Dakota Hudson (4.1 WAR)

Pallante’s success towards lefties covers for the Cardinals’ lack of a real homegrown, wipeout lefty reliever within the combine. There’s an argument to be made that Gonzales belongs. Additionally up for dialogue are Kyle Barraclough (1.7 WAR) and Jake Woodford (0.5 WAR). It’s Ottavino’s presence that stands out and possibly even makes this bullpen sizzle. After leaving the Cardinals, the previous first-rounder reengineered his profession, discovered success within the bullpen, and – to place it bluntly – was forward of his time, particularly with the Cardinals.

Now 37, Ottavino, the thirtieth general choose by the Cardinals in 2006, has a profession ERA of three.42, and prior to now 13 seasons and 687 innings he’s pitched 31% higher than league common.

Listed below are the highest seven pitchers since 2010 who appeared in a minimum of 200 video games, pitched a minimum of 80% of them in reduction, and all of them ranked by WAR (a compiling stat):

Typically it takes going elsewhere for a participant to maximise his potential (Ottavino, Gallen, Arozarena, to call a number of), and that aspect of the dialogue is ignored on this train*, nevertheless it shouldn’t be in relation to how the Cardinals acquired of their present state of affairs.

* Neither, for that matter, is the seasons of dropping that will have preceded any run by the roster being put collectively right here and the place that will have left the Cardinals.

That bullpen has some potential, some firepower, and a few grizzled late-game expertise. But it surely, like each bullpen in every single place actually, would profit from an even bigger lead. And that brings this train to the lineup. It doesn’t look as strong with out Goldschmidt and Arenado in it. But it surely is perhaps deeper. It brings extra bang for the buck.

The gamers are picked based mostly on proximity (did they end the yr because the Cardinals’ starter there?), manufacturing (are they starring, even elsewhere?), and potential (is there important upside, right here or elsewhere?). In every case, the energetic homegrown participant with the best WAR can also be listed on the place, if he’s not chosen for that place.

C: Andrew Knizner, 1.5 WAR (Carsons Kelly 3.6 WAR)

Backup: Ivan Herrera, 0.0 WAR

1B: Brendan Donovan, 6.1 WAR (Matt Carpenter 28.9 WAR)

Alternates: Luken Baker, Alec Burleson (each adverse WAR as rookies)

2B: Tommy Edman, 17.0 WAR (Kolten Wong 22.2 WAR)

Alternate: Donovan begins right here if another person is at 1B.

3B: Nolan Gorman, 3.2 WAR (Patrick Knowledge? 3.5 WAR)

SS: Masyn Winn, minus-0.6 WAR (Paul DeJong 12.7 WAR)

LF: Randy Arozarena, 11.4 WAR (Tommy Pham 17.9 WAR)

Backup choice: Jordan Walker, minus-0.1

CF: Harrison Bader, 12.7 WAR

Backup choice: Dylan Carlson, 5.6

RF: Lars Nootbaar, 6.1 WAR (Adolis Garcia 11.2 WAR)

Backup choice: Stephen Piscotty, 6.5 WAR

DH: Adolis Garcia, 11.2 WAR (Pham? 17.9 WAR)

Backup choices: Walker; Luke Voit, 5.4 WAR; Juan Yepez

This may come as an entire and utter shock, however the outfield is a puzzle – crowded with potentialities, however not clarified by manufacturing. Basic Cardinals. Arozarena and Garcia have, arguably, had probably the most spectacular begins to their careers of any modern Cardinals-grown outfielders and their offensive manufacturing already, proper three on the again of their baseball playing cards, thunders previous what the Cardinals have obtained lately. They might be the solutions within the corners, or they might be candidates for designated hitter. Or, they current a difficulty with a right-handed heavy lineup – is Gorman and Donovan sufficient to offset? not within the trendy recreation – and a query mark in heart.

Bader stands out because the defensive choice in heart, however having a switch-hitter like Carlson in that spot or left-handed OPS upside like Nootbaar on the market brings wanted stability.

After which the place does Walker match?

Inside a number of years, he might be one of the best of all of them.

He has the potential to be what the above lineup is missing.

The tent-pole hitter that each one October lineups have.

They usually normally have a number of.

That brings us to at least one doable postseason roster made up of homegrown Cardinals:

Pitchers (12): RHP Sandy Alcantara, RHP Zac Gallen, RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Jack Flaherty, RHP Ryan Helsley, RHP Adam Ottavino, RHP Jordan Hicks, RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Andre Pallante, LHP Zack Thompson, after which RHP Johan Oviedo/RHP Dakota Hudson/LHP Marco Gonzales, pending position or matchup.

Catchers (2): Andrew Knizner, Ivan Herrera.

Infielders (5): Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman, Masyn Winn, Alec Burleson.

Outfielders/DH (7): Randy Arozarena, Adolis Garcia, Harrison Bader, Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Pham, Jordan Walker, Dylan Carlson.

And that illustrates the crux of the dialogue.

Is that roster ok to succeed in the playoffs, to make noise in it?

Of the postseason, groups the 100-win Dodgers have probably the most former Cardinals on their roster. Wong joined them through the season, Kelly and Lynn got here through the identical commerce, Miller was already there. Peralta, a pitcher method again when he was a Cardinal, and Jason Heyward signed as free brokers with LA this previous offseason. That makes six. 5 have been initially drafted or signed by the Cardinals.

That LA roster faces elimination Wednesday evening within the desert.

Lynn has the beginning for the Dodgers.

Pham is probably going due up third for the D-Backs.

So, what’s your homegrown-Cardinals lineup that’s October prepared?

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