The Cardinals received brutal news on touted right-hander Alex Reyes, as the 23-year-old was ultimately diagnosed with a torn tendon in his right lat that necessitated surgical repair (Twitter links via Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Reyes, who pitched four innings in his first start back from Tommy John surgery, is expected to need six months to recover, which would effectively end his 2018 season. The doctors did tell the team that they expect a full recovery, Timmermann adds.
The abrupt end to Reyes’ season is a transformative injury for a Cardinals rotation that was dreaming of six quality options: Reyes, Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Luke Weaver, Michael Wacha and Jack Flaherty (to say nothing of the rehabbing Adam Wainwright and depth arms like Austin Gomber and John Gant). While the very presence of Flaherty, Gomber and Gant should allow the Cards to field a competitive rotation even without Reyes and Wainwright, the group now looks thinner than the organization would’ve hoped. Martinez himself is only just back from a less-severe lat injury of his own, and he looked decidedly rusty in his first start since being activated off the DL yesterday.
Of greater concern, of course, is the long-term ability of Reyes to contribute in the rotation. While there’s no doubting the talent he possesses in his right arm, his four-inning appearance this season was his first action since the 2016 campaign. As Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch rightly points out (via Twitter), by the time the 2019 season kicks off, Reyes will have pitched just four MLB innings in a span of 31 months. That doesn’t even factor in a shoulder injury he had in the minors back in 2015. In all, the highest total of innings Reyes has ever thrown in a full season is 116 1/3 in 2015 (101 1/3 regular-season frames and 15 innings in the Arizona Fall League).
Reyes will continue to accrue MLB service time while he misses a second straight season rehabbing from a major surgery, meaning that by Opening Day 2019, he’ll have racked up two years, 55 days of service despite throwing only 46 innings at the Major League level. He’s on track to be eligible for arbitration following the 2019 season and can be controlled through the 2022 season as things currently stand.