ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals moved to an eight-man bullpen last week and are likely to keep that many relievers on the Major League roster through the duration of Interleague Play. Manager Mike Matheny said the less conventional split of eight relievers and four bench players "makes sense, definitely, as we head into American League cities."
The Cardinals' Interleague schedule doesn't take them to an American League park until next Tuesday. That means the club will play with a shorter-than-usual bench for the next 12 games, unless a roster move is needed.
The need for extra bench players is lessened in American League ballparks because of the use of the designated hitter and the opportunities for pinch-hitters and double-switches diminish significantly.
The Cardinals also have more of a cushion now with their four-man bench than they did over the weekend when, with Matt Holliday sidelined by back spasms, the bench was even further thinned. With Holliday healthy again, Matheny will have more options for the next two home Interleague series.
The opportunity to inject another arm into the bullpen has also been a plus for a team that has relied heavily on its relievers in recent weeks. The bullpen logged 76 2/3 innings during the team's first 30 games of the season. In the 31 games since, it had to cover 94 1/3 innings.
"I like having the extra arms down there, especially how we've been using the 'pen with guys in shorter stints," Matheny said. "We'll see how it plays out. I don't have any long-term plans beyond what we would do when the DH is in play."