The St. Louis Cardinals made four roster moves before Tuesday night’s game against the San Diego Padres.
With third baseman Jhonny Peralta once again dealing with thumb issues and showing no immediate signs of improvement, the St. Louis Cardinals placed him on the DL on Tuesday afternoon. This development continues a frustrating 2016 season for Peralta, who didn’t debut until June 7 after initially tearing a ligament in his left thumb during spring training. Since returning, Peralta has hit just .221/.258/.416 with five homers in 120 plate appearances.
With Peralta back on the shelf, the Cardinals changed the makeup of their roster, getting away from the three-catcher configuration that they’d employed for the eight games, designating backstop Michael McKenry for assignment, while finally switching to an eight-man bullpen, which seemingly would have made sense to do a long while ago. Righthander Miguel Socolovich was recalled from Triple-A Memphis, while outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker also rejoined the roster after spending 13 games in Memphis.
With Socolovich back, Mike Matheny will have a reliable righthander in his bullpen. The 29-year-old threw for a 1.82 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and .221 opponent batting average in 29 2/3 innings for the Cardinals a year ago, so it was a bit of a mystery as to why he hadn’t been summoned yet this year. He’s performed well for the Redbirds in 2016, posting a 2.79 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .224 OBA in 38 2/3 innings of work.
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Ultimately, Socolovich’s potential for success comes down to whether Matheny believes that he’s a trusty option in high-leverage situations (which he definitely should, considering that he had a 1.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 8 1/3 innings of “late and close” work in 2015). Though Rule 5 pick Matt Bowman has been a pleasant surprise as of late, it’s difficult to understand how Socolovich could be any less consistent than Jonathan Broxton (4.17 ERA, two blown saves), Trevor Rosenthal (5.46 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, four blown saves), or Seth Maness (4.87 ERA, 1.57 WHIP).
Hazelbaker returns after posting a dominant .325/.438/.475 line at Triple-A, and he will provide some extra outfield depth behind Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, and Tommy Pham. Considering that he has a .368 batting average, 1.263 OPS, and three homers in 19 pinch-hitting opportunities this year, he should also serve as a valuable piece of the Cardinals’ bench during the late innings. His skills as a pinch runner and defensive replacement will be valued, too.
McKenry’s time with the Cardinals organization is more than likely over, considering that star catching prospect Carson Kelly has now been promoted to Triple-A and will be getting the majority of the playing time there. McKenry, who has posted a .238/.318/.406 slash line over seven big-league seasons, has the opportunity to elect free agency since he’s been designated for assignment, and one would imagine that there will be better opportunities out there for him considering the lack of quality catching depth around the league.