Oli Marmol slams door shut on Matt Carpenter in Cardinals lineup

It sure sounds like Matt Carpenter won't be starting very many games for the Cardinals.

Feb 19, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Matt Carpenter (13) practices
Feb 19, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Matt Carpenter (13) practices / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals had an eventful offseason, primarily focused on improving what was a horrific rotation in 2023. St. Louis signed the AL Cy Young runner-up, Sonny Gray, which was good, but made some questionable additions in the form of Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn.

On the offensive side of the ball, they didn't have to do much, but the Cardinals elected to bring in a pair of veterans who appear to be on their last legs. Brandon Crawford was brought in to be the team's backup shortstop, and Matt Carpenter was signed without a clear role in mind.

With Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Edman, and Dylan Carlson all beginning the season on the injured list, the thought of Carpenter latching on as the team's primary designated hitter until they got healthier made some sense. Oli Marmol shut that down emphatically before Opening Day, however.

It sure sounds like Matt Carpenter won't play very much for the Cardinals

Carpenter was absent from the Opening Day lineup with Alec Burelson starting at DH. Marmol explained the decision to roll with Burleson over Carpenter rather clearly. Burleson earned it by hitting better. Burleson had a team-leading 18 hits in 48 at-bats (.375 BA) while Carpenter, who still played well, had nine hits in 26 at-bats. A smaller sample.

Carpenter is beloved by Cardinals fans for the player he was for his 11 years with St. Louis, but outside of a 47-game hot streak with the Yankees, he's been a shell of himself since 2018. Carpenter was expected to see regular DH at-bats for the Padres last season but hit just .176 with a .641 OPS in 76 games. At age 38 is he really going to do any better? Marmol seems to think not, even with a nice spring.

This is a pretty big blow to Carpenter's playing time chances, as if he can't play with three starting-caliber players on the IL then when exactly is Carpenter expected to start games? Does half the team have to be injured?

Marmol did say he wants to rotate everyone in this series so Carpenter will presumably play at least once this weekend, but it sounds like Burelson is the starter for now. When everyone comes back, at-bats will be even harder to find for Carpenter.