- The Cardinals activated outfielder Austin Dean before Sunday’s game, optioning Nabil Crismatt to the team’s alternate site, per Anne Rogers of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 25-year-old Crismatt made 6 appearances out of the bullpen for the Cardinals this season with a 3.24 ERA over 8 1/3 innings. This was the first taste of big-league action for the right-hander. Dean was acquired in the offseason from the Marlins, but he’s appeared in just 3 games for the Cardinals this season. The 26-year-old has been out since mid-September with a right elbow strain.
Hudson initially went to the injured list with a forearm strain, and while the Cardinals were not overly concerned from the start, further testing heightened the possibility of surgery. Given the traditional timetable for recovery from Tommy John, Hudson figures to miss all of 2021 and, in all likelihood, at least a portion of 2022 as well. The timing is particularly unfortunate for the 26-year-old hurler, who will now target a return as early in 2022 as possible.
Hudson has established himself as a significant part of the Cardinals rotation over the past two seasons. He finished 5th in rookie of the year voting in 2019 after going 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA/4.93 FIP across 174 2/3 innings. Wandering command held him back at times (4.4 BB/9). but he’d made strides in that regard this season (3.5 BB/9). Hudson was the game 4 starter in each of the NLDS and NLCS last season, struggling in both outings. To be fair, the defense didn’t do him any favors in either outing, as he allowed 3 unearned runs each time out.
The 6’5″ right-hander made 8 starts this season, going 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA/4.50 FIP, worth 0.6 rWAR. If the Cardinals are able to secure their spot in the postseason, they still present as a scary match-up for the 3-game set in the first round. Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright will rival any top two in the National League, full stop. Beyond those two stalwarts, lefties Austin Gomber and Kwang Hyun Kim would be options for a potential game 3. Carlos Martinez has struggled after fighting COVID-19 early in the season, and it’s looking less and less likely that he’ll be able to contribute much this season.
If the Cardinals can beat the Brewers on Sunday, they’ll be in the playoffs as the #5 seed. If they lose, however, they could be in for a long week. With only 58 games played, they would potentially have to fly to Detroit to play a doubleheader to solidify their playoff seeding. They would have to lose on Sunday, get swept in the doubleheader on Monday, and see the Giants win their Sunday game in order to finish out of the postseason entirely.
Beyond this season, the loss of Hudson might hurt even more, especially if Adam Wainwright does not return for another season. Martinez, Miles Mikolas, and John Gant will all be returning from injury-shortened 2020 seasons with a chance to make the 2021 rotation behind Flaherty and Kim. If Wainwright wants to continue playing, another season in St. Louis would certainly benefit both parties.
It’s already known that Cardinals righty Dakota Hudson won’t pitch again in 2020 after being placed on the 45-day IL due to a forearm strain, but it sounds as though there’s mounting concern regarding the injury. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have been exploring both treatment and surgical options, and colleague Rick Hummel writes separately that surgery “seems a very probable option.”
Hudson exited his Sept. 17 start after just two innings, and while manager Mike Shildt at the time called his level of concern “very low,” additional testing has forced him to change his tune. “I would like to be able to tell you it’s fantastic news, but I can’t say that’s going to be the case,” Shildt told reporters yesterday (via Goold). Hudson was known to be seeking additional opinions on the injury this week. It’s not yet clear what type of procedure — if any at all — would be required, but the Cards figure to have an update on the right-hander’s status before too long.
The obvious hope is that Hudson will be able to avoid going under the knife. Surgery is always a last resort and typically requires months-long rehabilitation efforts. The Cards’ 2021 rotation is already a bit murky thanks to injuries elsewhere — Miles Mikolas underwent flexor tendon surgery earlier this year — and the fact that Adam Wainwright is a free agent at season’s end.
Also muddying next year’s rotation picture are the enormous struggles that Carlos Martinez has endured in 2020. The former St. Louis ace returned to the rotation after spending the ’19 season in the bullpen but has been hammered for 22 earned runs on 26 hits and 10 walks through just 20 innings of work. Martinez’s season formally came to a close this week when an oblique strain landed him on the injured list, but there have been additional health concerns at play for the righty.
Martinez, who has asthma that hospitalized him for a night late last season, went to the emergency room for IV treatment three or four times while battling the coronavirus, per MLB.com’s Anne Rogers. Shildt suggested that Martinez was “affected by COVID probably more than anybody in this league” and was at one point “concerned about his own personal well-being and livelihood.” It’s admirable that he gutted out a return to the mound but also perhaps not surprising that he struggled to this extent given the apparent severity of his symptoms.
In a best-case scenario, both Martinez and Hudson will be ready to join Jack Flaherty, Mikolas and Kwang Hyun Kim on the Cardinals’ staff early next year — if not on Opening Day. But the health concerns surrounding both hurlers should give the Cards more incentive to explore yet another reunion with Wainwright and/or pursue additional depth options on the free-agent market.
With oblique injuries often leading to weeks-long absences, this figures to end the season for Martinez, who has logged all five of his 2020 appearances out of the Cardinals’ rotation after working from their bullpen a year ago.
While Martinez was a high-end starter earlier in his career, opposing offenses have smashed the 29-year-old for a 9.90 ERA/6.88 FIP in 20 innings this season. Martinez has easily posted career-worst strikeout and walk rates along the way, having logged 7.65 K/9 and 4.65 BB/9, respectively. And Martinez has averaged under 93 mph on his fastball – far below the 95-96 mean he has typically recorded.
The Cardinals, who are 27-26, do have their next five starters lined up, with Kwang Hyun Kim, Jack Flaherty, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Adam Wainwright and Austin Gomber scheduled to take the mound in their upcoming matchups. Regardless of how their season ends, though, the Cardinals will owe Martinez $11.5MM in 2021. That would have looked like a bargain price not long ago, but that’s not the case with the way he has performed this year.
When the Cardinals drew up their season plans way back before the start of Spring Training, they surely envisioned Carlos Martinez and Dakota Hudson playing significant roles on the pitching staff. That’s not quite how things turned out, though the club is still quite likely headed for the postseason.
The embattled Martinez was pulled from his start tonight with what the team is describing as a mid-back strain. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among those to cover the developments on Twitter.
Martinez was ultimately charged with eight earned runs, leaving him with an unsightly 9.90 ERA on the season. The prognosis remains to be seen, but it’s fair to wonder regardless whether he will play a significant role in the postseason (should the Cards qualify).
Martinez, who already missed a big chunk of the campaign owing to coronavirus infection, will earn $11.5MM next year before the club makes a call on the first of two club options. The Cards might conceivably shop him in the offseason, though contractual circumstances may instead dictate an effort at a rebound in St. Louis.
As for Hudson, it was already known that he’d miss the remainder of the year with a forearm injury. As Anne Rogers of MLB.com covers via Twitter, Hudson’s outlook beyond that point remains to be seen.
The outcome of an initial medical review isn’t known. Hudson is due for a second opinion on his wounded wing, with a decision on treatment to ensue.
Before the health issues intervened, Hudson had been humming. Through 39 frames over eight starts, he carried a 2.77 ERA. Despite marginal K/BB numbers, Hudson has throughout his young career induced loads of groundballs and outperformed ERA estimators.
Kaminsky was a first-round pick (No. 28) for the Cardinals in 2013, but he is already in his second stint with the franchise. The Cardinals traded Kaminsky to the Indians in 2015 for slugger Brandon Moss, but the Redbirds brought the hurler back before 2020 on a minor league contract.
The 26-year-old Kaminsky made the first five MLB appearances of his career earlier this season and gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings. Kaminsky logged a 60 percent groundball rate over that small sample of work, and he has always posted high GB rates in the minors. Despite that, Kaminsky struggled to a 5.11 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 in a 24 2/3-inning Triple-A debut with the Indians last season.
The Cardinals have placed right-hander Dakota Hudson on the 45-day injured list, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets. They activated righty Kodi Whitley from the IL to take Hudson’s place on their roster.
This will end Hudson’s season, though it’s not a surprising outcome for someone who suffered a right flexor tendon injury last week. The hope is that Hudson will return to health once next season rolls around, especially considering he has been an important member of the Cardinals’ rotation since his first full campaign in 2019.
While fielding-independent metrics such as FIP (4.73) and xFIP (4.55) haven’t been enamored of Hudson’s work, the bottom-line results have been highly encouraging for the 26-year-old throughout his career. So far, thanks in part to a sterling 57.3 percent groundball rate, Hudson has managed a 3.17 ERA across 241 innings and overcome weak strikeout/walk numbers (6.95 K/9, 4.44 BB/9). Hudson’s ability to induce grounders at a high clip helped him to a 2.77 ERA in 39 frames this year.
The Cardinals have announced a series of roster moves, Anne Rogers of MLB.com was among those to report. The club designated right-hander Roel Ramirez for assignment, activated outfielder Dexter Fowler and righty Giovanny Gallegos from the injured list, and optioned outfielder Justin Williams and RHP Nabil Crismatt.
Ramirez – part of the Cardinals’ July 2018 return from the Rays for outfielder Tommy Pham – lasted just under two months on St. Louis’ 40-man roster before the team designated him. The 25-year-old Ramirez, whom the Cardinals selected Aug. 5, made one disastrous appearance with the club this season and yielded six runs on six hits (including four homers) and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. He joined the Cardinals as the owner of a much more respectable 4.03 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 462 1/3 minor league frames.
At the major league level, Fowler and Gallegos could serve as important late-game reinforcements for the Cardinals, who have gone 26-24 and are currently in playoff position. They’ve been without Fowler since he went on the IL on Sept. 2 with a stomach illness. The switch-hitting 34-year-old slashed .279/.347/.485 with four homers in 75 plate appearances before then.
Just as Fowler’s an important part of the Cardinals’ outfield, their bullpen needs Gallegos, who’s back after the Redbirds placed him on the IL on Sept. 11 with a right groin strain. Gallegos has pitched to a 3.97 ERA/2.65 FIP and notched 11.12 K/9 and 2.38 BB/9 in 11 2/3 frames this season. He also leads the Cardinals in saves with four.
Andrew Miller made his 14th appearance of the season in yesterday’s Cardinals victory, and in doing so, he triggered a $12MM vesting option for the 2021 season, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold points out.
Miller, 35, signed a two-year, $25MM deal with St. Louis prior to the 2019 campaign — a contract that came with a vesting option which would become guaranteed with 110 games pitched between 2019-20. Miller appeared in a hefty 73 games for the Cards last season, leaving him with an easily attainable 37-game threshold to guarantee himself that salary in 2020. That number was prorated to just 14 games in this year’s shortened schedule, so even though the veteran southpaw missed some time in August due to some shoulder fatigue, he’s had enough time to secure that salary for next year.
The Cards haven’t yet seen the dominant form displayed by Miller during his 2013-17 peak, when he notched a combined 1.82 ERA and 1.96 FIP with 14.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. The lefty has seen his strikeout rate dip from those levels as his control has worsened, and Miller’s fastball velocity has dropped by more than four miles per hour since 2016.
To be fair, Miller still has a sharp 3.09 ERA through 11 2/3 innings this year, to say nothing of a 12-to-4 K/BB and a 60 percent ground-ball rate that would mark a career-best. However, his overall body of work with the Cards — 4.21 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 82-to-31 K/BB ratio, 11 hit batters through 66 1/3 innings — is likely a good bit shy of what the organization had hoped for upon signing him. If Miller can continue at his 2020 pace even with the diminished velocity, next year’s salary won’t seem outlandish. But given the league-wide revenue losses in 2020, the extra $12MM being tacked on for a reliever’s age-36 season also isn’t ideal.
The Cardinals, who had seen their payroll (pre-prorating) rise above $160MM for a second straight season, already have roughly $111MM on the books for the 2021 campaign with Miller’s deal locked in. That doesn’t include arbitration raises for Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Harrison Bader or John Gant, nor does it include the pre-arbitration players who’ll round out the club. The front office will also have some work to do to up and down the roster. Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are free agents. The outfield has been among the least-productive offensive units in baseball. There’s a $1MM buyout on Kolten Wong’s $12.5MM option for the 2021 season.
It’s not clear just what type of financial latitude the front office will be given by ownership, but we’re only a few months removed from Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. brazenly declaring that the baseball industry “isn’t very profitable” even with fans in attendance. At the very least, Miller’s option further muddies what was already shaping up to be a complicated winter for president of baseball ops John Mozeliak, GM Mike Girsch and the rest of the Cards’ front office.