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Relief galore: Cardinals downsize pitching staff, but beef-up bullpen with starters Gomber, Oviedo, and Ponce de Leon

Relief galore: Cardinals downsize pitching staff, but beef-up bullpen with starters Gomber, Oviedo, and Ponce de Leon

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The Cardinals' Austin Gomber throws against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

SAN DIEGO — After spending the last month of the regular season making constant transactions to stay ahead of their pitching needs and injuries, the Cardinals had to find ways to exhaust their roster.

For the first round of the playoffs, they sought ways to exploit it.

The Cardinals submitted Wednesday morning their 28-man roster for the wild-card series against the San Diego at Petco Park, and they downsized their pitching staff while upsizing the number of innings they could ask the bullpen to handle because of the starters put into it. Johan Oviedo, Daniel Ponce de Leon, and Austin Gomber will all start the playoffs in the bullpen, and Kodi Whitley, freshly back from the injury list, will be in bullpen.

The Cardinals will identify one of the pitchers, likely Gomber, to be ready to start if the team advances to the next round and the hub bubble — the hubble? — in Arlington, Texas. John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said that decision will hinge on need during the three-game series in San Diego.

Mozeliak laughed as he called the series "normal."

That it is.

(Except losing it means the season's over.)

There's no doubleheader for the Cardinals to figure out, no 15 consecutive days of games to negotiate, and it's just a simple, regular, familiar three-game series. That does unlock manager Mike Shildt's pitching choices, and allow the Cardinals to make decisions based entirely on the moment and the matchup, not availability and tomorrow.

Or, as infielder Brad Miller said, there's the chance to "throw the kitchen sink" at the Padres.

The subtraction of a pitcher from the roster frees up the Cardinals to add catcher Andrew Knizner and have his bat off the bench or utilize switch-hitter Matt Wieters as a lefthanded-hitting option off the bench. Austin Dean and Rangel Ravelo are also on the roster for those late-game pinch-hit options from the right side.

Carlos Martinez (oblique strain) has returned home to the Dominican Republic and is out of the Cardinals' bubble, his 2020 season complete. He will now focus on recovery and then getting ready for the 2021 season. John Gant (groin) remains with the team and is making progress; he could be considered for the next round if the Cardinals advance.

All of the players the Cardinals will consider for the playoffs are now with the team.

Dakota Hudson had Tommy John surgery on Monday, as planned, and once inside the joint the surgeon found the ligament was in need of reconstruction.

Mozeliak called it the "right decision" to have the surgery.

Hudson could miss all of the 2021 season as he recovers.

Here is the complete roster for the best-of-three wild-card series at Petco.

PITCHERS (13)

92 – Génesis Cabrera – LHP; 22- Jack Flaherty – RHP; 65 – Giovanny Gallegos – RHP; 36 – Austin Gomber – LHP; 56 – Ryan Helsley – RHP; 33 – Kwang Hyun Kim – LHP; 21 – Andrew Miller – LHP; 59 – Johan Oviedo – RHP; 62 – Daniel Ponce de Leon – RHP; 29 – Alex Reyes – RHP; 50 – Adam Wainwright – RHP; 30 – Tyler Webb – LHP; 38 – Kodi Whitley - RHP

CATCHERS (3)

7 – Andrew Knizner; 4 – Yadier Molina; 32 – Matt Wieters

INFIELDERS (7)

13 - Matt Carpenter, 12 – Paul DeJong; 19 – Tommy Edman, 46 – Paul Goldschmidt; 15 – Brad Miller; 47 – Rangel Ravelo; 16 – Kolten Wong

OUTFIELDERS (5)

48 – Harrison Bader; 3 – Dylan Carlson; 0 – Austin Dean; 25 – Dexter Fowler; 41 – Tyler O’Neill

Check back throughout the day for coverage from San Diego and St. Louis as the Cardinals face the Padres in Game 1.

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