The Minnesota Twins may have a new look when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
The opener of their three-game interleague series at Busch Stadium comes hours after baseball's trade deadline.
Several players, including scheduled Friday starter Jose Berrios, have been the subject oftrade rumors with the Twins sitting in the American League Central cellar.
Their 17-14 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night left them 17 games back of the first-place Chicago White Sox. Last week the Twins traded designated hitter Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays.
"Any time you're even having to contemplate subtracting from your group, guys that you care about and trust, and you ultimately love them, it's hard to even think about," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
The Cardinals could also make changes before the deadline, given their acute need for starting pitching.
Carlos Martinez (torn thumb ligament) and Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) are out for the season, and Jack Flaherty (oblique strain) and Miles Mikolas (forearm strain) have been rebuilding arm strength during minor league rehabilitation stints.
Since falling four games below .500 at 37-41 in late June, the Cardinals stabilized by going 14-10 with a patchwork starting rotation.
"I feel like we're playing and getting the most out of what we have pretty consistently," manager Mike Shildt said. "And that's ultimately all we can do."
But they fell nine games back of first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central with their 7-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. That deficit left the front office mulling whether to buy, sell or do a little of both before the trade deadline.
"We'll see where it goes, see what happens," Shildt said. "I'll be supportive either way regardless of which direction or how we go, if we go anywhere."
The Cardinals will start Wade LeBlanc (0-2, 4.58 ERA) in the series opener. Since coming to the team in midseason, LeBlanc has appeared in nine games and started five of them.
He is 0-1 with a 3.45 ERA since coming to the Cardinals. But he has worked just 22 innings in his five starts, with a 5 2/3-inning stint on July 3 his longest outing.
In his last start LeBlanc struck out five batters in four innings during a 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. But he allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk.
LeBlanc, who pitched for the Baltimore Orioles earlier this season, is 0-1 with a 4.86 ERA in six career appearances against the Twins, including three starts.
Andrelton Simmons (6-for-16, one home run), Josh Donaldson (4-for-11, two homers, four RBIs) and Max Kepler (3-for-8, two doubles, RBI) will bring good track records against LeBlanc into this game, if they are still on the Twins.
Berrios (7-5, 3.48 ERA) is in line to counter LeBlanc if he isn't traded. He impressed scouts in his previous outing, allowing just two unearned runs in seven innings during a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
He is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. He has fared well against Paul DeJong (0-for-4), Matt Carpenter (0-for-3), Nolan Arenado (0-for-2) and Yadier Molina (0-for-2).
--Field Level Media