It may not necessarily be a white flag that the St. Louis Cardinals waved Friday, but the reshaping of their bullpen was a first step in admitting their priority lies with 2019 and not the final two months of 2018.
Before a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis designated veterans Greg Holland and Tyler Lyons for assignment, placed Brett Cecil (right foot inflammation) on the 10-day disabled list and traded Sam Tuivailala to Seattle for minor league pitcher Seth Elledge.
Lefty Tyler Webb, along with right-handers Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson, were called up to replace the departed. The closest any of the trio came to appearing Friday came when Hudson warmed up in the sixth in case starter Luke Weaver needed help, but Weaver worked his way out of the inning.
However, one or more of the callups could see action Saturday when the Cardinals try to secure a series win over Chicago in Busch Stadium.
"Today was not a finality by any means," St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said to MLB.com. "It was just a big change for our bullpen and how it looks. Between now and Tuesday at 3 in the afternoon, I think we're going to exhaust as many things as possible."
Translation: The 52-51 Cardinals aren't quite done dealing yet, and even if they suddenly get hot just before the deadline, it's not likely to change their minds.
Before they make any more roster moves, though, they'd like to extract a pound of flesh and then some from the Cubs (60-43). And St. Louis has perhaps its most reliable starter this year ready to go for the series' middle game.
All-Star right-hander Miles Mikolas (10-3, 2.82 ERA) will shoot for his second win of the year against Chicago in three starts. Mikolas settled for a no-decision in a 7-2 loss Sunday at Wrigley Field, leaving for a pinch-hitter after five innings. He allowed six hits and two runs, walking two and fanning six.
Mikolas will have the benefit of a bat that appears to be heating up in shortstop Paul DeJong. Seemingly regaining his timing after missing 45 games with a broken hand, DeJong went 3-for-3 Friday night with a triple and three RBIs.
After collecting just three extra-base hits in his first 14 games back from the disabled list, DeJong has one in each of his last three games.
"I think I'm hitting the ball well and finally finding some holes," he said. "It was more just about timing and rhythm. It's more about getting back in the swing of things and playing every day."
DeJong will take his swings Saturday against lefty Jose Quintana (9-6, 3.87), who got the win Sunday against the Cardinals with a good seven-inning outing. Quintana permitted six hits and two runs, walking four and whiffing six.
In seven career outings against St. Louis, Quintana is 4-2 with a 2.77 earned run average. He's been even stingier at Busch, pitching to a 1.77 ERA in four games, although his record is only 2-2.
The Cubs were also active in the transactions department Friday, acquiring lefty Cole Hamels from Texas for right-hander Eddie Butler, Class-A right-hander Rollie Lacy and a player to be named later. It's not known when Hamels will make his first start for Chicago.
"It will be a tremendous journey for the next couple of months," Hamels said to MLB.com.