The Cardinals look to be on their way to an NL Central title, but their 2019 success has come in spite of an uncharacteristically pedestrian year from third baseman Matt Carpenter. With the Cardinals trying to hold on in their division, Carpenter has taken a backseat to rookie Tommy Edman at the hot corner. While Carpenter did start there Wednesday in the Cardinals’ win over the Nationals, Edman has made twice as many starts this month (12 to six). Carpenter discussed his decrease in playing time with Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, acknowledging that Edman’s “got to play every day.” Although Carpenter went on to admit that dropping in the pecking order has been difficult, he added: “I understand part of what’s happening. Guys have played well and deserve to be in there. We’re winning and, at the end of the day, that’s ultimately what’s most important.” There’s still time for Carpenter to reemerge this year, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle him in the offseason if they’re convinced Edman’s the answer at third. A trade would be tough to put together, as Carpenter has two guaranteed years and $39MM coming his way after signing an extension in April. The three-time All-Star’s deal also includes a no-trade clause.
More from the NL…
- Outfielder Nick Williams’ time with the Phillies seems likely to end when the Phillies’ season concludes, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. It’s clear Williams, once a touted prospect, has fallen out of favor with the organization. Even though the Phillies have been facing multiple injuries in their outfield, Williams still hasn’t been able to crack their lineup, as his most recent at-bat came Sept. 2. While Williams did thrive at the Triple-A level this year, he has stumbled to a dreadful.157/.204/.255 line in 108 major league plate appearances in 2019. Williams will still have a minor league option remaining after this season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Phillies remove him from their 40-man roster then. It would be an unceremonious ending to a once-promising Philly tenure for Williams, who joined the club in 2015 as part of the package it received from Texas for Cole Hamels.
- Injured Pirates Josh Bell and Starling Marte are hoping to return this season, though it’s unlikely either will be ready until next week, Adam Berry of MLB.com writes. Bell has been out since Sept. 13 with a left groin strain, while Marte hasn’t appeared since the 10th on account of a sprained left wrist. In what has turned into a nightmare of a season for the Pirates both on and off the field, Bell and Marte have been among their few bright lights. If the 27-year-old Bell does come back in the season’s final days, he’ll try to make a last-second run at the 40-home run mark. Bell’s sitting at 37 dingers and a .277/.367/.569 line over 613 trips to the plate. Marte, 30, has posted his sixth season with at least 3.0 fWAR, thanks in part to a .295/.342/.503 line through 586 PA. This is also the second 20-20 campaign in a row for Marte, who has swatted 23 HRs and racked up 25 steals.
- Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler has dealt with a mild oblique strain for a month and hasn’t pitched since Sept. 10. However, Kintzler said he had a “great day” throwing from a mound Wednesday, and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy indicated the right-hander could return as early as Sunday (via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times). If true, Kintzler (as well as the returning Craig Kimbrel) could help bolster the Cubs’ bullpen as the team tries to earn a playoff spot. Chicago’s relief corps took the loss against Cincinnati on Wednesday, leaving the Cubs in a tie with the Brewers for the NL’s second wild-card position.