Wilson Contreras is set to return as the St. Louis Cardinals catcher for Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. This news came directly from manager Oli Marmol, who talked about it with reporters including John Denton of MLB.com on Saturday. Contreras has been absent from the team since May 5, and the Cardinals made it clear last Saturday that he would not be back anytime soon. Instead, he has appeared as the Cardinals’ designated hitter in all six subsequent inning starts.
On Monday, Contreras will be paired with Jack Flaherty for the Cardinals’ starting battery. Flaherty and rotation man Adam Wainwright met with Contreras to discuss what catchers need to do to help the pitching staff. Marmol, who showed excitement about the return of Contreras, said that “both want it and Wilson wanted him to come to bat on Monday.”
Contreras, who is 31 years old and made nearly $90 million with the Cardinals during the offseason, signed a five-year contract. Although he has consistently been an above-average hitter throughout his career, critics have noted his defensive shortcomings. His game calls are difficult for outsiders to quantify, but Statcast estimates he ranks in the 34th percentile for framing. Cardinals backup Andrew Knizner is ranked No. 47.
Marmol clarified that having Contreras as the catcher doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll lose the game. Despite his defensive struggles, Marmol said that Contreras is making an effort to get used to the Cardinals’ pitching and the way they do things.
Despite Contreras’ return and successful hitting record of 263/.340/.406 (OPS +108) in 150 plate appearances, the Cardinals, who have a record of 14-25, remain one of the most disappointing teams of the season.