St. Louis Cardinals – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-25T23:54:09Z WordPress Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Ryan Sherriff Discusses End Of Time In St. Louis]]> 2020-10-25T19:07:52Z 2020-10-25T19:07:12Z
  • Rays reliever Ryan Sherriff worked his way back from a 2018 Tommy John surgery to appear on Tampa Bay’s World Series roster. This season marked his first big league action since a 2017-18 stint with the Cardinals, as Sherriff discusses with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Released by St. Louis in August 2018, two months after undergoing surgery, Sherriff concedes he was frustrated with the way things ended. In light of his success with the Rays, Sherriff now considers his Cardinals release the “best thing that ever happened to me.” A grievance filed in 2018 against the St. Louis organization for back pay and MLB service time related to the date of Sherriff’s injury is still pending, Goold reports.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Looking Back At The Randy Arozarena Trade]]> 2020-10-20T19:49:31Z 2020-10-20T19:47:37Z For starters, yes, it’s now officially “The Randy Arozarena Trade.”

    Arozarena has been the star of the Rays’ postseason run, hitting an incredible .382/.433/.855 with seven home runs over 60 plate appearances in these playoffs.  The 25-year-old outfielder’s performance earned him ALCS MVP honors, making him the first rookie position player in baseball history to ever be named MVP of a league championship series or World Series.

    It’s pretty on-brand for the Rays’ style of roster-building that their October hero is someone a lot of fans probably had never heard of as recently as September.  For a team that is rightly credited for a strong minor league system, it’s a little surprising that so few members of Tampa Bay’s World Series roster are actually homegrown players — only seven of the 28 players came up entirely through the Rays’ pipeline, with the other 21 all acquired via signings or trades.

    Case in point, Arozarena.  Back in January, the Rays and Cardinals completed a multi-player deal that, at the time, was best known as “the Jose Martinez trade” or even “the Matthew Liberatore trade.”  Tampa Bay sent top pitching prospect Liberatore, catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez, and their draft pick in Competitive Balance Round B (which ended up 63rd overall) to St. Louis in exchange for Martinez, the Cards’ pick in Competitive Balance Round A (or the 37th overall pick) and a certain future ALCS MVP.

    At the time, Martinez was easily the best-known quantity, having hit .298/.363/.458 with 41 homers over 1288 PA for the Cardinals in 2016-19.  If you had predicted in January that a player from this trade would help lead the Rays to the AL pennant, the assumption would have been that Martinez continued (or improved upon) the offensive production he delivered in St. Louis.  A move to the American League was long seen as a way to possibly fully unlock his potential, as the defensively-challenged Martinez would no longer have to worry about playing the field in a league with a designated hitter position.

    As it turned out, Martinez didn’t even finish the season in Tampa.  After missing much of Summer Camp due to a positive COVID-19 test, Martinez hit .239/.329/.388 over 76 PA for the Rays and was traded to the Cubs in a deadline deal for two players to be named later.  Martinez then didn’t collect a single hit over 22 PA for Chicago, and now looks like he could be a non-tender candidate this winter.

    It’s worth noting that Martinez didn’t hit as well in 2019 as he did in 2017-18, leading some Tampa fans to wonder why a 31-year-old DH type was the apparent headliner of a trade package for one of the Rays’ (and baseball’s) top prospects.  Liberatore was the 16th overall pick of the 2018 draft and a consensus top-65 prospect, and even accounting for the lost 2020 minor league season, there’s no reason to believe Liberatore couldn’t still become a quality MLB starter.  Liberatore could even factor into the Cardinals’ pitching plans for 2021, as president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Liberatore impressed the team while working out at the alternate training site this summer.

    Arozarena was a well-regarded prospect in his own right, but hardly a top-100 type or even one of the top-tier names in the Cardinals’ system alone; MLB Pipeline ranked Arozarena as the tenth-best St. Louis minor leaguer at the time of the trade.  Since the Cards were already overloaded with outfield candidates, it was more than understandable that Mozeliak and company jumped to unload some of that surplus while bringing back a promising minor league arm.  Granted, St. Louis fans might not agree with this logic based on immediate returns, as several Cards outfielders (such as Tyler O’Neill, Lane Thomas, and even top prospect Dylan Carlson) badly struggled at the plate in 2020 while Arozarena thrived in Tampa Bay.

    As valuable of an asset as Liberatore was and still is, however, the Rays felt okay with moving a piece of their future for the win-now addition of some outfield bats.  This is where the Rays’ outstanding player development system really comes into play — Tampa Bay is comfortable in taking the risk in trading such prospects because the front office has confidence they can always draft, acquire, and develop more good players to fill that void.

    In a baseball world that holds top-100 prospects in higher regard than ever before, the Rays have dealt three such players (Liberatore, Jesus Sanchez, and Nick Solak) since July 2019, bringing back the likes of Arozarena, Nick Anderson, Peter Fairbanks, and Trevor Richards in return.  All are controllable young players in their own right, and all have been able to contribute at the big league level more immediately, with Arozarena, Anderson, and Fairbanks in particular all being major components of Tampa’s push to the World Series.

    The Rays/Cardinals trade is also perhaps instructional in considering just how much teams value draft position.  The concept of trading draft picks is still unusual in baseball terms (the Competitive Balance Round selections are the only picks that can be traded), though fans of the NFL, NBA, or NHL are very familiar with how much teams in those sports often have to surrender in order to trade up in those respective drafts.  A 26-spot jump in the draft was a big leap upwards for the Rays, who used that 37th overall pick on Arizona State shortstop Alika Williams.  St. Louis, meanwhile, took Arkansas high school pitcher Tink Hence with the 63rd overall pick.

    Perhaps in a decade’s time, we’ll look back on this deal as “The Alika Williams Trade” or “The Tink Hence Trade,” or even “The Edgardo Rodriguez Trade.”  Since the swap has already led to at least an AL pennant, the Rays likely won’t be too upset if Hence, Rodriguez, or Liberatore end up being staples of the Cardinals’ roster.  While fans take stock of which teams “win” or “lose” trades, most front offices hope all their deals are win-win moves — it won’t help future trade negotiations, naturally, if other teams are too wary of a club who only trades away future underachievers.

    The Rays do tend to come out on the better end of trades more often than not, however, which is why the low-payroll franchise is currently playing for a World Series title.  Every playoff champion seems to have at least one unheralded acquisition leading the way, and while Arozarena is but one of several such players on Tampa Bay’s roster, his immediate impact and long-term potential make him a particular success story for the Rays’ front office.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yadier Molina Seeking Two-Year Deal]]> 2020-10-20T14:17:03Z 2020-10-20T14:17:03Z Cardinals icon Yadier Molina saw his three-year, $60MM contract expire at season’s end, which could potentially send him into the open market for the first time in his 17-year big league career. There’s sure to be mutual interest in extending the relationship, but agent Melvin Roman tells MLB Network’s Jon Heyman that his client is seeking a two-year deal (audio link to Heyman’s Big Time Baseball Podcast with Tony Gwynn Jr.; Molina talk begins at 34:30).

    Whether the Cardinals are interested in handing out a multi-year deal for Molina at this stage of his career is unclear. Though he’s a nine-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, Molina’s bat has tailed off dramatically in recent seasons. He’s still managed to hit for a respectable average, but his already meager walk rate has begun to head south. And while his 13.5 percent strikeout rate from 2020 was still considerably lower than the league average, Molina sat around nine to ten percent in that category at his peak. This year’s 78.1 percent contact rate was far and away the lowest of his career, and his 12 percent swinging-strike rate was easily a career-high.

    Overall, Molina has turned in a .268/.310/.388 slash over the past couple of seasons. It should be noted that while that translates to an 86 wRC+ — composite production that is 14 percent worse than an average hitter when weighted for home park and league — Molina’s production is right in line with the average MLB catcher in that span. In addition to being a solid bat relative to his positional peers, he also threw out a strong 31.7 percent of attempted base thieves over the past two seasons. In terms of pitch framing, both FanGraphs and Statcast consider Molina slightly above-average dating back to 2019.

    It’s not the same package that Molina brought to the table at his peak — or even when he signed that three-year deal prior to the 2018 season — but it’s not as though he has completely wilted. A rather considerable pay cut in terms of annual salary still seems all but certain, whether on a one- or two year deal and whether with the Cardinals or a new team. Not long ago, talk of Molina signing anywhere other than St. Louis would have seemed outlandish, but he said in the run-up to this year’s shortened season that he intended to keep playing even if it meant signing with a new team.

    For the Cardinals, the decision comes down to retaining an icon and potential Hall of Famer or turning things over to a younger option like Andrew Knizner. The 25-year-old Knizner (26 in February) has yet to produce in the big leagues but has long rated as one of the organization’s more promising farmhands. He carries a .283/.362/.453 slash through 341 Triple-A plate appearances and a near-identical OPS in a more pitcher-friendly Double-A setting.

    At some point, one would imagine the Cardinals would like to see Knizner take on a larger role — even if Molina were to re-sign for a year or two. Further down the organizational pipeline is 20-year-old Ivan Herrera, who could also factor into the equation by the 2022 time frame through which Molina apparently hopes to be extended.

    The Cards have some decisions to make regarding both Molina and longtime teammate Adam Wainwright, each of whom seems intent on playing another year at least. The organization must also decide on Kolten Wong’s $12.5MM option, although it’s possible they’ll look to restructure that arrangement.

    Those decisions come not only against the backdrop of league-wide revenue losses stemming from the absence of fans in 2020, but at a time when the Cards have $109.75MM guaranteed to eight players and an arbitration class with some key names up for raises. It’s a tough situation for president of baseball ops John Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch to navigate — particularly as they look to account for the loss of righty Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) and augment a lineup that produced middling results in 2020.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Expected To Discuss New Contract With Kolten Wong]]> 2020-10-12T14:24:02Z 2020-10-12T14:24:02Z The Cardinals, like many other clubs throughout the league, have a fairly robust slate of guaranteed salaries on the books for 2021 and could face limited financial flexibility this winter as ownership tries to recover from the revenue losses that swept the sport in the shortened 2020 campaign. To that end, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cards “are expected” to talk to second baseman Kolten Wong about a contract extension that would lessen the immediate cost of keeping him on the roster.

    Wong, who turned 30 over the weekend, has just one year of control remaining, but that comes in the form of a non-guaranteed $12.5MM club option for next season. The option comes with a $1MM buyout, meaning there’s a net $11.5MM decision to be made when it comes to keeping the 2019 Gold Glover or cutting him loose.

    Wong hit .265/.350/.326 this season. The on-base skills displayed by Wong were roughly in line with his previous three seasons, but the second baseman’s already limited power went up in smoke, as Wong connected on just one home run, adding four doubles and a pair of triples. His .061 ISO (slugging minus batting average) was the lowest of his career by more than 50 points. Defensively, he remained elite; his six Defensive Runs Saved were the second-most among second baseman and ranked 19th in Major League Baseball at any position.

    The Cards have just shy of $110MM committed to next year’s payroll — not including Wong’s would-be $12.5MM salary — and have a rather substantial arbitration class that will feature Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Alex Reyes, Harrison Bader, Jordan Hicks and John Brebbia. They’ll also be forced into decisions on franchise icons Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, both of whom are free agents but have interest in returning for another go-around in St. Louis. And, of course, none of that group would do much to address the team’s frequently anemic offense, which will be a focal point for president of baseball ops John Mozeliak, GM Mike Girsch and the rest of the front office this winter.

    On the surface, there’d be good reason for Wong to hold some mutual interest in a reworked deal. Beyond staying with the only club he’s ever known, the offseason market is expected to be rather frigid for mid-tier free agents due to the aforementioned revenue losses. The second base market, in particular, would also hold plenty of competition, most notably in the form of Yankees star DJ LeMahieu. He’s far from the only starting-caliber second baseman who’ll hit free agency this winter, however. Cesar Hernandez, Jonathan Schoop and bounceback candidate Jonathan Villar will all be on the market alongside myriad utility types who could capably hold down a second base gig on at least a part-time basis. The expected deluge of non-tenders should only add to the competition.

    There’s no telling to what extent Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is willing to spend in the wake of revenue losses, but it’ll presumably be at a lower level than the rough $168MM projection (pre-prorating) that Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez put on their 2020 roster. DeWitt is the same owner who famously claimed that the baseball industry simply “isn’t very profitable” earlier this year.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[How The Cardinals Can Add Power To The Lineup]]> 2020-10-07T04:20:21Z 2020-10-07T04:19:13Z
  • The Cardinals rank 23rd of 30 teams in home runs since the start of the 2017 season, and their 51 homers in 2020 was a league low.  There’s no easy way to correct this power shortage, leaving The Athletic’s Mark Saxon to speculate that St. Louis might need to make some tough choices to get some more pop into the lineup without drastically (or at all) increasing payroll.  For instance, could the Cards again trade from their depth of pitching prospects for a bat, even while their need for additional arms might be greater in 2021?  Or, a more drastic option could be to decline Kolten Wong’s $12.5MM option for 2021 and install Tommy Edman at second base, freeing up some money to land a slugger.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Cardinals Await Decisions From Molina, Wainwright]]> 2020-10-04T17:31:15Z 2020-10-04T17:31:15Z The St. Louis Cardinals faced a disappointing end to a hard-fought season when they lost games two and three of the wild card round to the San Diego Padres. Now they must turn to the difficult process of winter roster building.

    The Cardinals, however, are in the unique position of awaiting decisions from two franchise icons: Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. Both vets have interest in returning, but no decision has been made. Either or both could still decide to return. In a worst case scenario for Cardinals’ fans, it’s possible the pair could explore a new frontier with another club, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That seems unlikely, but Molina and Wainwright are intense competitors who have accomplished more-or-less everything they could hope to accomplish in St. Louis.

    For the Cardinals’ part, manager Mike Shildt has repeatedly expressed a desire to see the pair return to Jupiter in the spring. Wainwright and Molina have long set the tone in St. Louis, and it’s hard to quantify the impact their departure might have on the club’s culture. The Cardinals had hoped a sort of passing of the torch would take place in 2020, per Goold, but the young players in St. Louis didn’t quite establish themselves in exactly the way the team hoped. Ace Jack Flaherty still has a sky-high ceiling, but in 9 starts, the 24-year-old went just 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA/4.11 FIP. Given the tumultuous nature of the season, that’s hardly a disaster. Still, when push came to shove, it was Wainwright and Kwang Hyun Kim taking the ball in games one and two of the playoffs.

    Molina, 38, already outlasted one catcher-of-the-future in Carson Kelly, who was eventually traded to the Diamondbacks as part of the package for Paul Goldschmidt. Andrew Knizner, 25, is the closest to usurping the role now, but it’s not particularly close. If Molina wants to come back, he’ll be back, and he’ll be the starting catcher.

    Goold notes that Molina desires to play two more seasons. That certainly makes it seem as if he’ll be back in St. Louis. If Molina returns, chances are greater that Wainwright returns as well. They certainly have a need now that Dakota Hudson will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals have other options for the rotation – Alex Reyes, Carlos Martinez, Kim, Miles Mikolas, and Austin Gomber – but besides Flaherty, they all come with questions. With Wainwright, the Cardinals know exactly what they’re getting. They’re just waiting for Wainwright to give the word on whether or not they’ll get it in 2021.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Bob Gibson Passes Away]]> 2020-10-03T03:24:54Z 2020-10-03T03:10:46Z Baseball icon and longtime Cardinals ace Bob Gibson has died at the age of 84 after a battle with cancer, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

    As Hummel notes, Gibson passed away on the 52nd anniversary of one of his greatest performances – a 17-strikeout effort against the Tigers in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series. It was one of countless gems turned in by the right-handed Gibson during his Hall of Fame career, which spanned from 1959-75.

    Always known as an incredibly fierce competitor and a seemingly inexhaustible workhorse, Gibson pitched to a brilliant 2.89 ERA, compiled a 251-147 record during the regular season and amassed 12 seasons with at least 200 innings – including a pair of years with upward of 300 frames. But Gibson was even more effective in the postseason, where he put up a 1.89 ERA and went 7-2 across 81 innings to help the Cardinals to two World Series titles. His playoff heroics will always be part of baseball lore.

    Gibson went to nine All-Star Games and won nine Gold Gloves, two Cy Youngs and an MVP during his tremendous career. He’s undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in the history of the sport, and everyone in the baseball world is surely sad that he’s gone. We at MLBTR offer condolences to Gibson’s family, friends and the Cardinals organization.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Padres v. Cardinals: Who Will Advance?]]> 2020-10-02T22:33:10Z 2020-10-02T22:33:10Z There is only one first-round playoff series remaining, and it will be decided tonight when the Padres and Cardinals complete their matchup in Game 3. The Padres entered with the far better record (37-23 against 30-28), but injuries to top starters Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger – who have been unavailable – have impacted the series.

    With Lamet and Clevinger on the shelf, San Diego turned to Chris Paddack and Zach Davies in the first two games, but the pair struggled. The team’s now so short on options that it will tap reliever Craig Stammen as the opener in a bullpen game Friday. The Cardinals, meanwhile, will have Jack Flaherty on the hill. Flaherty went through a very disappointing regular season, though he’s only a year removed from serving as one of the league’s most valuable starters.

    On the offensive side, the Fernando Tatis Jr.-led Padres finished the season with one of the game’s most potent attacks, ranking third in runs and fifth in wRC+. The Cardinals weren’t nearly as good (28th in runs, 19th in wRC+), but the Paul Goldschmidt-helmed outfit has outscored the Padres 16-15 in the series.

    The game’s about to get underway. Which team do you expect to advance? (Poll link for app users)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cardinals Set Wild Card Roster; Carlos Martinez Shut Down For Season]]> 2020-09-30T20:21:29Z 2020-09-30T20:21:29Z The Cardinals announced their first-round postseason roster Wednesday, which does not include right-hander Carlos Martinez. The 29-year-old Martinez sustained an oblique strain late in the season and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters today that Martinez has been shut down for the year and returned home to the Dominican Republic. Martinez struggled mightily this season anyhow, yielding more than a run per inning, so a spot on the postseason roster might not even have been a given. He’ll hope for better health and results in 2020, and in the meantime cheer on the following Cardinals roster as they take on the fourth-seeded Padres:

    Right-Handed Pitchers

    Left-Handed Pitchers




    It was a trying regular season for the Cardinals, who overcame a two-week layoff during the summer that resulted from coronavirus issues. Despite having to race to catch up to the rest of the league in games played, the Cardinals managed to come in at above .500 yet again, finishing 30-28 en route to the fifth seed in the NL. The Cards will go into their series against San Diego with a “downsized” pitching staff, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, but they could turn to Oviedo, Ponce de Leon and Gomber for multi-inning appearances out of their bullpen if needed.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[MLB Finalizes 16-Team Playoff Bracket]]> 2020-09-28T02:00:04Z 2020-09-27T23:53:32Z With a hectic final day of play in the books, the 2020 playoff field is officially set – which visual learners can view here from MLB Network. The defending World Series champion Nationals and their newly-crowned batting champion Juan Soto will watch from home.  The Mets and Phillies turned in disappointing seasons, while the Marlins stunned their NL East counterparts to enter the postseason as the #6 seed in the National League. The Braves weathered a line change in their starting rotation to win their third consecutive NL East title.

    Elsewhere in the National League, Dodgers are the team to beat, while the Padres are the team to watch. The Rockies and Diamondbacks will face some hard questions in the offseason after disappointing years, while the Giants exceeded expectations but narrowly missed the postseason.

    The Central makes up half the playoff field in the National League with everyone but the Pirates continuing into MLB’s second season. The Cubs took home their third division title in five seasons behind stellar years from Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks, but it was a difficult season for many of their core offensive players. They were also the only team in the majors to go the entire season without a single player testing positive for COVID-19, per NBC Sports Chicago and others. The Cardinals will be the #5 seed after playing two fewer games than the rest of the league, Trevor Bauer led the Reds back to the postseason by winning the NL ERA title (in a free agent year no less), and the Brewers backed into the NL’s #8 seed without ever being above .500 in 2020.

    In the American League, small markets had themselves a year. The A’s took the AL West back from the defending AL champion Astros. Speaking of, Houston finished a tumultuous year without their ace Justin Verlander. Manager Dusty Baker will lead his fifth different team to the postseason, this one joining the Brewers as one of two under-.500 teams to reach the postseason. The Angels will reboot after firing their GM earlier today, while the Rangers and Mariners continue their rebuilds.

    The Rays, meanwhile, won the AL East for the first time in a decade and they’re the top seed in the American League. The Yankees settle for second place and the Blue Jays arrive to the postseason a little earlier than expected as the AL’s #8 seed. The Red Sox took an expected step back, while the Orioles performed better than expected, staying in the playoff hunt for most of the season.

    The Twins lost in extras today, but they nonetheless secured their second consecutive AL Central title. Shane Bieber put up a potentially MVP season to get the Indians back to the playoffs. The White Sox arrived in a major way led by Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. Only a late season slide kept them from a division crown. They’ll head to Oakland as the #7 seed. The Tigers debuted a number of players they hope will be a part of their next competitive team, while the Royals said goodbye to a franchise icon in Alex Gordon’s final season.

    It was a short and bizarre season, but the playoffs – while expanded – aren’t going to be all that different from most years. There will be neutral sites and a wild card round of 3-game series, and playoff bubbles, but once the field is pared down to eight, it’s more or less business as usual for the postseason. It should be an exciting month of October.

    Here’s the final field of 16:

    National League

    (8) Brewers at (1) Dodgers

    (5) Cardinals at (4) Padres

    (6) Marlins at (3) Cubs

    (7) Reds at (2) Braves

    American League

    (8) Blue Jays at (1) Rays

    (5) Yankees at (4) Indians

    (6) Astros at (3) Twins

    (7) White Sox at (2) A’s

    The playoffs begin on Tuesday, September 29.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Cardinals Activate Austin Dean, Option Nabil Crismatt]]> 2020-09-27T19:29:12Z 2020-09-27T19:29:12Z
  • The Cardinals activated outfielder Austin Dean before Sunday’s game, optioning Nabil Crismatt to the team’s alternate site, per Anne Rogers of (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.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Dakota Hudson To Undergo Tommy John Surgery On Monday]]> 2020-09-28T15:20:23Z 2020-09-27T17:25:57Z Dakota Hudson of the St. Louis Cardinals will undergo Tommy John surgery on Monday, per Anne Rogers of (via Twitter).

    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 possibly 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.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dakota Hudson Could Require Surgery]]> 2020-09-25T18:43:31Z 2020-09-25T18:41:05Z 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’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.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals Place Carlos Martinez On IL With Oblique Strain]]> 2020-09-24T22:12:03Z 2020-09-24T22:12:03Z The Cardinals have placed right-hander Carlos Martinez on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain and recalled righty Johan Oviedo, per a team announcement.

    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.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Carlos Martinez, Dakota Hudson]]> 2020-09-24T03:47:40Z 2020-09-24T03:47:40Z 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 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.