(Baseball STL) -- With the Cards clinching a spot in October, thanks to Milwaukee's loss on Sunday, we now know there will be baseball beyond September 28th.
Whether that's a one game wild card play-in game or a full on best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers or Nationals remains to be seen.
But there will be more baseball for the Redbirds.
Having said that, there are now countless decisions that have to be made with this roster to figure out who's going to have a role going forward and who won't.
So here's my projection for the 25-man roster once the postseason begins:
This is tough. Most teams in baseball have someone in their starting rotation who is the unquestioned #5 that gets banished to the bullpen once the postseason begins. It's an easy call and no one questions it.
Who should not be part of the Cards' 4-man playoff rotation? Share your thoughts.
The Cardinals are not most teams. They have a Cy Young caliber arm (Wainwright) followed by a former All Star having a tremendous season (Lynn) followed by one of their elite prospects who's finally starting to realize his potential (Miller), an experienced playoff monster (Lackey) and - oh, by the way - their own October sensation from a year ago (Michael Wacha).
Whatever decision Mike Matheny makes is going to be scrutinized. He'll be sending someone that's really good and deserves to start in October to the bullpen. And that person won't be happy.
However, having said that, a decision has to be made. And right now Wacha is the guy who's not at his best. He missed a huge chunk of the season with a shoulder ailment and is still in spring training mode trying to get back to where he needs to be with his command.
Wacha still may get another start before the regular season ends and if he throws a gem like he did against Washington late last year to push him into the October rotation then all bets are off. But at this moment he's probably the one headed to the bullpen.
There are really no surprises here. Other than the fact you don't see Kevin Siegrist or Jason Motte - which looking at their seasons as a whole can't be considered surprises - there's nothing that really jumps out at you.
The bigger issue is how these guys will be used - particularly Wacha (again it's worth noting even if it's not Wacha removed from the rotation someone will be back here). Trevor Rosenthal has been inconsistent this season to say the least. While his saves number (44) is impressive his peripherals are not. The Cards closer has blown 6 save chances and has a 1.43 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). Basically, walks have been a problem. Particularly to the leadoff man.
Will Mike Matheny hesitate to trust a one run lead in a playoff game to Rosenthal? Will he have someone else warming up at the start of that inning just in case? What about Wacha - or whoever that disposed starter is? Will they be a long reliever or a late inning option?
Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez and Sam Freeman have all been absolutely fantastic over the last few weeks and their confidence is sky high right now. Throw in the fact Pat Neshek has been outstanding all season as well and you have an awful lot of options.
The names aren't the question here. It's the roles.
?You'll notice there are 14 names here with just 11 pitchers. I believe the Cardinals will elect to go heavy on the position player side for a couple reasons. First, there just isn't another pitcher worthy of a spot on the roster.
Also, the Cards really want to get Pierzynski's bat in big situations. If he's the only other catcher to Molina on the roster though Matheny may be hesitant to use him for fear of burning his only backup. That's why Cruz is necessary as well, to free up Pierzynski for pinch hitting duties.
If you take 3 catchers that leaves you short somewhere else - on a typical 13 position player/12 pitcher alignment. With Bourjos and Grichuk absolutely deserving of spots and Descalso the only utility infielder, another person to roam shortstop and second base in necessary.
Enter Pete Kozma. Say what you want about his hitting over a long period of time but he can play defense. He's better at shortstop than Descalso and can play some second as well. The last couple seasons have given him some pretty big experience points and he's proven - despite not being the greatest hitter on the planet - Kozma can give you a really tough at-bat in a big spot if needed.
So he, in essence, would be the 14th position player added instead of another pitcher like Siegrist or Motte. Plus, Kozma would get the call over Mark Ellis because this has just been a brutal season for Ellis overall. He never got untracked after getting a late start on the season and has hit sub .200 all year long.
October is not that far away. These types of discussions are happening within the Cards front office right now.