Braves, Cardinals set rosters for NL Division Series

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              St. Louis Cardinals players gather before a baseball team workout Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, at SunTrust Park in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves will host the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a National League Division Series on Thursday. (AP Photo/John Amis)
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves will have three players picked up cheaply during the season on the NL Division Series roster, while the St. Louis Cardinals left right-hander John Gant off their 25-man squad.

Outfielder Billy Hamilton, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarría and catcher Francisco Cervelli made the roster announced by the Braves ahead of Game 1 Thursday in the best-of-five series. Atlanta had previously announced it would carry 11 pitchers and 14 position players, leaving 10-game winner Julio Teheran and rookie slugger Austin Riley off the squad.

Gant, a former Braves pitcher, was omitted from the Cardinals roster despite going 11-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 64 games. He got off to a brilliant start but looked worn out by the end of the season, posting a 13.50 ERA over his last nine appearances.

“The biggest person off the roster is John Gant,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “That was the hardest decision, quite candidly, by far. You’re talking about a guy that won 11 games, more than 10 percent of our win total.”

Infielder Kolten Wong, who has not played since Sept. 19 because of a hamstring injury, was included on the Cardinals roster. He batted .285 with 11 homers, 59 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.

When the Braves were struck by a rash of injuries, Hamilton was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals, while Hechavarría and Cervelli were signed after being released by the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively. All three made contributions in Atlanta’s push for a second straight NL East title.

Hechavarría hit .328 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 24 games for the Braves. Cervelli chipped in with two homers and seven RBIs, giving Atlanta a third catcher as well as a backup for first baseman Freddie Freeman. Hamilton provides speed and defense off the bench.

“We’ve been really good organizationally at filling those holes and having guys that came in and made an immediate impact,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Atlanta decided to go with Josh Tomlin instead of Teheran as their long reliever. Rafael Ortega and Adam Duvall claimed outfield spots ahead of Riley, who had 18 homers and 49 RBIs but slumped badly down the stretch. In another close call, right-hander Darren O’Day earned a bullpen spot over Anthony Swarzak despite missing much of the last two seasons with injuries.

While Wong was deemed healthy enough to go in the playoffs, pitcher Michael Wacha was omitted after leaving his last start with shoulder tightness. He was 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 29 games, including 24 starts.

St. Louis has five rookies on its NLDS roster.