Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden will miss six to ten weeks with a muscle strain in his right shoulder, GM John Mozeliak told reporters including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter links). Seth Maness is set to fill in for Walden in a set-up role in front of closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Having an arm like Maness provides some consolation, but hardly makes up for a significant amount of time without Walden. The 27-year-old righty had been outstanding through 10 1/3 innings, allowing just one earned run while striking out a dozen batters and permitting only four walks. Though his average fastball velocity has been down by about 1.5 mph as against his numbers last year, continuing a general trend, he still has worked regularly in the 94-95 mph range.
Over six years of MLB action with the Angels, Braves, and now Cardinals, Walden has racked up 222 frames of 3.00 ERA pitching. He has averaged 10.8 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 with a 41.9% groundball rate over that time.
Walden came to St. Louis as a significant secondary piece in the same deal that brought Jason Heyward from the Braves. The Cardinals wasted little time in extending their commitment to him, inking a two-year deal that bought out Walden’s final two arbitration-eligible seasons for a guaranteed $6.6MM and left the club with a $5.25MM option for 2017.
It seems that the Cards will know much more about Walden’s status in advance of the trade deadline, which should help the team assess its pitching needs. The club is already without top starter Adam Wainwright for the year, of course, which has reduced its overall flexibility in moving players between the rotation and pen.