The St. Louis Cardinals wrapped up another NL Central title earlier this week in convincing fashion, blowing out the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-1. Afterward, the 100-win Cards celebrated the big achievement with a raucous clubhouse party.
Now that their October seeding is set and they await an NLDS opponent, the conversation now turns to the roster that manager Mike Matheny might use in the playoffs.
GM John Mozeliak, however, warned that he, Matheny and the rest of the coaching staff may have some difficult decision-making on deck.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that St. Louis will consider using an 11-man pitching staff for the postseason. That's noteworthy considering they have utilized 12-man staffs for six of the seven playoff series during Matheny's tenure.
As Mozeliak explained to Goold, it's all about having "More flexibility. You've got to remember, you are going back to a 25-man roster and in terms of taking someone out of the game early, it's one thing to do it with pitching. It's quite another to do it depending on your depth of positions players. You don't want to be too careful and spread yourself thin. That's something to sit down and discuss."
Of course, balancing a 25-man roster is tough when you have as many position players in uncertain status as the Cardinals do. Matt Holliday, Matt Adams, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk are all dealing with injuries but could also be viable assets during the NLDS and beyond, if need be.
The fill-in work from players such as Piscotty, Tommy Pham and Brandon Moss helped the Cardinals hold off the Pirates and Chicago Cubs in the absence of the injured stars, and everybody coming back at once puts the team in a tough spot, decision-wise.
"We didn't know that Matt Adams was going to take that final step to being active. We didn't know if Matt Holliday was going to get to the point where he could be out there every day and not have any setbacks," Matheny told Goold. "We brought in as many guys as we could to cover ourselves. Great problem to have. Say that in one breath and in the next breath you realize there are also tough decisions and tough conversations."
With a little less than a week remaining before the Cardinals begin the NLDS, they'll have some thinking to do in order to put together the most realistic and beneficial 25-man roster possible.