The Cardinals, 31-25 and firmly in the National League playoff hunt, are set to get back a couple of key reinforcements. Top starter Carlos Martinez and catcher Yadier Molina are on track to come off the disabled list Tuesday, per Joe Trezza of MLB.com.
Martinez went on the DL on May 10 with a strained right lat, before which the 26-year-old opened the season with 50 innings of 1.62 ERA/3.36 FIP pitching. Thanks in part to the flamethrowing Martinez’s efforts, the Cardinals’ rotation owns the majors’ third-best ERA (3.01) and seventh-highest fWAR (5.7).
Martinez will rejoin an impressive group that has also received notable contributions from Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, though it did lose high-ceiling 23-year-old Alex Reyes again earlier this week. Reyes returned from February 2017 Tommy John surgery this past Wednesday for a start against the NL Central rival Brewers, who lead the Cards by 4.5 games, but he lasted just four innings and subsequently went back on the DL with a “significant” lat strain.
Molina, meantime, has been out since May 6 – shortly after he underwent surgery for what St. Louis called a “pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma.” He suffered the injury behind the plate after taking a 100 mph-plus foul tip off the bat of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant. Molina, 35, had gotten off to a fine start to the season, slashing .272/.292/.456 with six home runs in 120 plate appearances and grading as one of the majors’ best pitch framers, per Baseball Prospectus.
Fill-in catchers Francisco Pena, Carson Kelly and Steven Baron haven’t been nearly as effective as Molina offensively, and all four Cardinals backstops have failed to throw out a single base stealer this season. Runners have gone a combined 20 for 20 against the Redbirds, though Molina figures to change that in the near future. Although the potential Hall of Famer yielded seven steals on as many attempts before his injury, he has thrown out a tremendous 41 percent of would-be base thieves during his career.