Alex Reyes made his much anticipated return to the Cardinals’ rotation yesterday and looked dominant in the first inning, whiffing two hitters with a fastball that reached 97 mph. However, a shaky second inning saw him issue a pair of walks and hit a batter, and his fastball at one point dipped to 92 mph. Reyes’ start was finished after just four scoreless innings and 73 pitches. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at whether there’s any cause for concern, quoting Reyes as the young righty acknowledged some fatigue. As Goold notes, Reyes didn’t go through an inning nearly as challenging as Wednesday’s second frame at any point during his rehab assignment. Manager Mike Matheny characterized the early hook as a precautionary move, acknowledging that the drop in velocity was a significant factor in the decision. Goold notes that Reyes at one point also winced and flexed his shoulder during the fourth inning, prompting a visit from the Cardinals’ staff, though certainly that could simply be related to the aforementioned fatigue, and it’s worth noting that Reyes did hit 97 mph again in the fourth immediately after that mound meeting.
President of baseball ops John Mozeliak spoke to Jim Bowden of The Athletic and CBS Sports last night and stated that Reyes’ elbow is “fine” in the aftermath of the potential scare (Twitter link), though it stands to reason that the Cards figure to proceed with caution early in the 23-year-old’s return to the big league rotation.
Here’s more out of St. Louis…
- Goold also examines an oddity in St. Louis, examining the surprising fact that the Cardinals have yet to prevent an opposing stolen base attempt in 2018. Other teams aren’t running on the Cards very often — they’re 20-for-20 through 53 games — which serves as a testament to the pitching staff’s ability to hold runners. But Goold still notes that no team has gone this far into the season without a single caught-stealing by its catching staff since 1951. St. Louis coaches are encouraging the staff to vary their delivery times and utilize slide steps when necessary as well. The trend is bizarre, to be sure, though it’s also almost certainly a short-term anomaly. Yadier Molina is on the mend and had the game’s second-best pop time prior to hitting the disabled list, Goold notes. And interim starter Francisco Pena comes with a 32 percent caught-stealing rate in his minor league career.
- Speaking of Molina, he took a significant step toward his return to the roster Wednesday, writes MLB.com’s Joe Trezza. Doctors cleared Molina to resume baseball activities, and he caught pitches in full gear yesterday in a batting cage in addition to taking some swings. He’ll head out on a rehab assignment in the near future if all continues to go well. Molina took a foul ball to the groin earlier this month and underwent emergency surgery to repair what the team called a “traumatic hematoma” later that evening.
- Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that Triple-A reliever Preston Guilmet, who has seen MLB time in the past with the Orioles, Rays, Indians and Brewers, has a June 1 opt-out provision in his minor league deal with the Cards. Guilmet’s opt-out is of particular note, given that the 30-year-old has torn through Triple-A batters with 26 innings of 1.04 ERA ball and a 32-to-4 K/BB ratio. He’s had some remarkable fortune on balls in play (.102 BABIP), but that doesn’t mean that Guilmet’s brilliant K/BB numbers should be wholly dismissed, either. Guilmet has allowed 21 runs in 23 MLB innings, but he’s been dominant in his past two Triple-A seasons now and had a solid run with the Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2017 (3.79 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 in 54 2/3 innings of relief).