It’s already known that Cardinals righty Dakota Hudson won’t pitch again in 2020 after being placed on the 45-day IL due to a forearm strain, but it sounds as though there’s mounting concern regarding the injury. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have been exploring both treatment and surgical options, and colleague Rick Hummel writes separately that surgery “seems a very probable option.”
Hudson exited his Sept. 17 start after just two innings, and while manager Mike Shildt at the time called his level of concern “very low,” additional testing has forced him to change his tune. “I would like to be able to tell you it’s fantastic news, but I can’t say that’s going to be the case,” Shildt told reporters yesterday (via Goold). Hudson was known to be seeking additional opinions on the injury this week. It’s not yet clear what type of procedure — if any at all — would be required, but the Cards figure to have an update on the right-hander’s status before too long.
The obvious hope is that Hudson will be able to avoid going under the knife. Surgery is always a last resort and typically requires months-long rehabilitation efforts. The Cards’ 2021 rotation is already a bit murky thanks to injuries elsewhere — Miles Mikolas underwent flexor tendon surgery earlier this year — and the fact that Adam Wainwright is a free agent at season’s end.
Also muddying next year’s rotation picture are the enormous struggles that Carlos Martinez has endured in 2020. The former St. Louis ace returned to the rotation after spending the ’19 season in the bullpen but has been hammered for 22 earned runs on 26 hits and 10 walks through just 20 innings of work. Martinez’s season formally came to a close this week when an oblique strain landed him on the injured list, but there have been additional health concerns at play for the righty.
Martinez, who has asthma that hospitalized him for a night late last season, went to the emergency room for IV treatment three or four times while battling the coronavirus, per MLB.com’s Anne Rogers. Shildt suggested that Martinez was “affected by COVID probably more than anybody in this league” and was at one point “concerned about his own personal well-being and livelihood.” It’s admirable that he gutted out a return to the mound but also perhaps not surprising that he struggled to this extent given the apparent severity of his symptoms.
In a best-case scenario, both Martinez and Hudson will be ready to join Jack Flaherty, Mikolas and Kwang Hyun Kim on the Cardinals’ staff early next year — if not on Opening Day. But the health concerns surrounding both hurlers should give the Cards more incentive to explore yet another reunion with Wainwright and/or pursue additional depth options on the free-agent market.