McClellan and Craig headed to DL?

The Cardinals are expected to place Kyle McClellan and Allen Craig on the disabled list tomorrow before they open play against the Los Angeles Dodgers, that according to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.

McClellan, 27, has a 4.42 ERA in 15 appearances out of the bullpen this season, but has allowed 4 runs in his last 4 innings on the mound over his last 3 appearances. He left in the seventh inning of today’s game against the Giants with right elbow pain. His is expected to be a longer stint.

Craig, also 27, has a .373 batting average with 5 HR and 19 RBI in the 13 games he’s played since coming off the disabled list on May 1st. He apparently injured his left hamstring during Wednesday night’s game against the Giants. According to Strauss, the team has sent him back to St. Louis for further examination. Craig, though, seemed confident that it would be just a couple days to recover.

The question is now who will the Cardinals call up to replace the two on the roster. Something to keep in mind is that the Cardinals currently only have 38 players on their 40 man roster, that means there are two open positions (thanks to the waiver of Erik Komatsu and the release of J.C. Romero).

The list of guys who could replace McClellan on the 25 man roster who are already on the 40 man roster are intriguing. They include Maikel Cleto, Brandon Dickson, Chuckie Fick, Sam Freeman, and Adam Reifer.

Cleto, received in the trade for Brendan Ryan, is struggling out of the bullpen in Memphis so far this season with a 4.91 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. However, Cleto was typically lit up in St. Louis as he’s known for having a wicked fast fastball with very little movement.

Dickson has a 3.42 ERA in 8 starts for Memphis and allowed just 3 hits and 0 runs in 5 innings out of the St. Louis bullpen last year. If you’re looking at a guy’s resume in the big league, that could give him the necessary edge.

Fick has a 2.55 ERA in 18 appearances and 17 2/3 innings in Memphis. Certainly the best right handed resume out of the bunch if you’re looking at minor league numbers.

Freeman has an ERA of 1.47 over 15 appearances in Springfield and 1 appearance in Memphis this season. After an injury cost him his 2010 season, Freeman is a left hander that has worked his way through the Cardinals’ system again with speed and relative ease. Considering the team just dropped J.C. Romero from the team, there could be another opening for another left hander in the Cardinals’ bullpen.

And finally, Reifer. He spent most of the last year on the disabled list. He currently has a 3.72 ERA in 19 1/3 innings out of the Memphis bullpen this season.

I think Dickson has the edge on the callup, but Fick has a chance and Freeman has a very outside chance.

The potential options already on the 40 man roster to replace Craig would be Adron Chambers, Zack Cox, Mark Hamilton, and Pete Kozma. I am already counting out Bryan Anderson because I don’t see the team selecting a catcher to come up without an injury to Yadier Molina or Tony Cruz.

Chambers, a lefty, is hitting .308 with a .377 on base percentage for Memphis this season. He’s a speedy outfielder who is capable of playing all three outfield positions. He provided a spark for the Cardinals at the end of last season and went 3-for-8 over 18 game appearances last year. He also went 1-for-5 in the playoffs for the Cardinals as well.

Cox, also a lefty, is struggling with the jump to Memphis, hitting just .189 in 37 games so far. He is also pretty horrible with the glove with his .855 fielding percentage so far this year. I would doubt they’re going to bring him up right now, though maybe he’d relish the change, the challenge, and the opportunity? He’s already getting paid like a big leaguer, so it wouldn’t cost them anything.

Hamilton started this season on the DL and is struggling to get things going so far in Memphis, hitting just .229 over the 11 games he’s played so far. With Matt Adams up and having taken over first base, Hamilton is having to fight for playing time in the outfield. He was pretty good for the Cardinals during Pujols’ DL stint last year.

Kozma is hitting just .230 through 39 games as he gets closer and closer to wearing the “bust” label. The time for him to make an impact is running short. He likely gets the call if there’s an injury in the middle infield, but not this one.

Of course, having room on the 40 man roster, the Cardinals could switch things up and add someone like Shelby Miller or Matt Adams to the 40 man so they could call them up… I know, I’m laughing too. Probably not.

I think we’ll likely get Adron Chambers and Brandon Dickson on a flight to Los Angeles tomorrow if they decide to make both roster moves. Though I think there is still a chance that Craig could avoid DL time, though they are playing it safe with him.