After undergoing an MRI, Yadier Molina has been diagnosed with a slightly torn ligament in his left thumb that will sideline him for an indefinite period of time, tweets the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is “cautiously optimistic” that Molina will return for the playoffs, though, according to a tweet from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and he’s not the only injured star that could make a postseason appearance; ace Adam Wainwright could rejoin the club in a relief capacity for October, according to Goold. Wainwright has been cleared for baseball activities.
Molina’s injury was the reason for the Cardinals’ DFA of first baseman Xavier Scruggs — as a 40-man move was required in order to recall a replacement catcher. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes, Molina sustained the injury on a swipe tag of Anthony Rizzo on a game-saving outfield assist from Jason Heyward yesterday.
The 33-year-old Molina has had a down season, hitting just .270/.310/.350 with four home runs. He’s still been excellent at controlling the running game, however, preventing 41 percent of stolen base attempts against him. He’s also drawn positive reviews for his pitch-framing skills once again, saving 5.7 runs above average per StatCorner.com and 7.4 runs per Baseball Prospectus. Even if his bat hasn’t lived up to his standards this season, the potential loss of his defense and familiarity with the pitching staff would be a huge blow for the Cardinals in the postseason should he be unable to return. He’ll be re-evaluated in five to seven days.
On the flip side of the coin, the potential return of Wainwright would be a somewhat unexpected boost to an already dangerous club (though as Nightengale tweets, Wainwright never once believed himself to be done for the season). Wainwright tossed 25 excellent innings for the Cardinals to open the season, but the longtime St. Louis ace ruptured his Achilles tendon midway through his fourth start of the season.
Goold reported yesterday that Wainwright would meet with doctors today in order to see if he could pitch this year, and while he clearly won’t have time to build up to a starter’s workload, adding that caliber of arm to the bullpen would be a boon for the Cardinals who, of course, are plenty familiar with the impact Wainwright can have on a postseason from the bullpen. Wainwright fired 9 2/3 shutout relief innings with a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio as a 24-year-old rookie in 2006, striking out Carlos Beltran to seal the NLCS and Brandon Inge to lock down the World Series.