St. Louis Cardinals option Paul DeJong, will summon pitcher for doubleheader

The Cardinals have optioned Paul DeJong to Triple-A and will recall a pitcher for Tuesday’s doubleheader.

With the St. Louis Cardinals really only having two bench players that they plan to utilize much in the near future, it didn’t make much sense to have a five-man bench. The team addressed that problem in advance of their series with the Milwaukee Brewers, which begins Tuesday, by optioning rookie infielder Paul DeJong to Triple-A Memphis. Easton Leonard of MLB Mayhem first reported the news on Sunday evening, and the Cardinals confirmed it on their transactions page Monday.

The 23-year-old DeJong started all 11 games for which he was available at first pitch during second baseman Kolten Wong‘s stint on the disabled list (he arrived during the middle of the game on May 28 at Colorado and later hit a ninth-inning pinch-hit home run). After Wong was activated on Friday, however, DeJong didn’t play all weekend, certainly not the most ideal situation for a young player who has skyrocketed through the Cardinals’ minor-league system and is only in his second full professional season.

While DeJong provided intriguing early results, hitting the homer in his first at-bat and then going 2 for 4 with a double in his first start, he wasn’t exactly outstanding as a hitter, ending up with a 244./.244/.390 slash line and 13 strikeouts in 41 at-bats. That was good for a 66 OPS+, or in other words, 34 points below average.

With DeJong making the conversion from third base to shortstop–as well as second base, a position he had barely played before reaching the majors–it didn’t make sense to have him sitting around as a rarely-used pinch hitter. So this move, though it probably should have been made Friday when Wong was activated, seems to be for the best.

Leonard reported Sunday night that the Cardinals will recall a pitcher to replace DeJong on the roster, therefore providing them with some extra depth for Tuesday’s doubleheader.The most logical candidate for a promotion at Memphis would seem to be Sam Tuivailala, who has pitched pretty well in three big-league stints this year and has a 1.65 ERA with 17 strikeouts and two walks over 16 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year. With that said, the Cardinals could also turn to recent waiver acquisition Sean Gilmartin if they’re looking for more of a long reliever, or they could call up Mark Montgomery, Ryan Sherriff, or Trey Nielsen–all of whom have been impressive at Memphis–if they’re willing to add a pitcher to the 40-man roster.

Righty John Gant, who was up with the big-league club last week, is not eligible to be recalled unless the Cardinals place a player on the disabled list to correspond with his promotion, as he hasn’t been back in the minors for the required 10 days. With that said, they could recall him as the 26th man for the doubleheader and keep Marco Gonzaleswho is scheduled to start the second game of Tuesday’s twin bill–in the bullpen after he makes his spot start.