Kozma in; Motte, Ellis off Cards' NLDS roster

Kozma in; Motte, Ellis off Cards' NLDS roster

LOS ANGELES -- While leaving off three postseason veterans, the Cardinals built a National League Division Series roster around pitching and versatility for their best-of-five series against the Dodgers, which begins on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1.

The Cardinals announced their roster a day before they were required to do so, and they chose to carry 13 pitchers instead of sticking with a seven-man bullpen and fortifying the bench with an extra bat. That decision cost A.J. Pierzynski a roster spot, as the Cards therefore opted to carry Tony Cruz as the sole extra catcher.

  Date   Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3   STL 10, LAD 9 video
Gm 2 Oct. 4   LAD 3, STL 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 6   STL 3, LAD 1 video
Gm 4 Oct. 7   STL 3, LAD 2 video

Here is a look at the full roster breakdown:

Starting pitchers: Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Shelby Miller.

Relievers: Randy Choate, Sam Freeman, Marco Gonzales, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha.

Catchers: Cruz and Yadier Molina.

Infielders: Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, Jhonny Peralta and Kolten Wong.

Outfielders: Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Oscar Taveras.

Pierzynski, who has a World Series ring and 30 games of postseason experience, was one of three veterans the Cardinals ultimately left off. Also omitted were reliever Jason Motte, who has a 2.08 ERA and eight saves in 19 playoff games, and Mark Ellis, who signed with the club in the offseason with the hope of playing in his first World Series. Now Ellis, who has played 22 playoff games during his 12-year career, will have to rely on others to get him there.

"All three were very hard conversations," manager Mike Matheny said.

Kozma bumped Ellis off the bench with a strong September and the versatility he offers. Not only can Kozma play across the infield, but he also gives the Cards a pinch-running option. Cruz earned the nod over Pierzynski because of his long-standing rapport with the pitching staff. The fact that the second catcher won't get many pinch-hit opportunities didn't help Pierzynski's case either. He has been with this team since signing as a free agent in July.

"There's a culture thing that we have going on with how Tony has fit into that from the beginning," Matheny said. "Tony brings an element of defense. A.J.'s offense is something that definitely has made this decision tough."

As for Motte, his roster fate was sealed by Gonzales, a rookie who starred in September and offers the Cardinals a third lefty out of the 'pen. Matheny said that lefty Kevin Siegrist was not an option as he continues to deal with soreness in his left arm. The Cards preferred the idea of carrying eight relievers so that Matheny can be more aggressive with his pitching moves.

"I think you have to be prepared for pitching," Matheny said. "We have to make sure we're covered with innings."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.