The Cardinals have placed right-hander Carlos Martínez on the 10-day injured list with a right thumb injury. Outfielder Lars Nootbaar has been recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take his spot on the active roster.
It seems Martínez could be looking at a rather significant absence, as manager Mike Shildt told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that imaging revealed a ligament tear in his thumb. While Martínez had been with the team in San Francisco, he’s now being sent back to St. Louis for further evaluation.
This continues what has been a disappointing season for Martínez. While he’d previously stayed healthy enough to make 16 starts and tally 82 1/3 innings, he’s simply not been particularly effective. Martínez has only managed a 6.23 ERA/5.14 SIERA, striking out just 15.7% of opponents while walking 9.9%. It’s the second straight poor year from Martínez, who had previously looked like a rotation cornerstone after posting high-end numbers from 2015-18 and performing well out of the bullpen in 2019.
Martínez becomes the latest Cardinals starter to go down with injury. St. Louis is already without Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas, and they entered the season knowing they’d go the entire year without Dakota Hudson. The Cards front office had already been known to be prioritizing starting pitching, and Martínez’s injury only adds to that urgency.
At 43-44, the Cardinals sit eight games back of the Brewers in the National League Central. They’re almost equally far back of the Padres in the Wild Card race, with the 45-41 Reds also ahead of them in the pecking order. Given that outlook, it’s arguable the Cardinals should instead turn their attention to 2022 and consider moving some players off the big league roster for young talent rather than adding.
Nevertheless, it seems the current plan for St. Louis is still to try to make a run in 2021. Robert Murray of FanSided wrote this morning — even before news of Martínez’s IL stint — that the Cardinals were expected to look to add a starting pitcher or two and perhaps another position player before the July 30 trade deadline. Given the Cardinals’ place in the standings, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has spoken about not wanting to mortgage the farm system to win at all costs this year. That could suggest St. Louis will be more in the mix for veteran stabilizers to plug into the back of the rotation rather than targeting a controllable, mid-rotation type.