The Cardinals have been without right-hander Dakota Hudson all season after the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery late last September, but the 26-year-old revealed on Instagram last night that he’s progressed to facing live hitters (hat tip: Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat, on Twitter). Hudson is working out at the team’s Spring Training facility, per Jones, who adds that there’s a “slim but real chance” he could return to the team late in the 2021 season.
That’d make for one of the quicker Tommy John returns we’ve seen in recent years. Hudson had has operation on Sept. 28, 2020, and we’ve increasingly seen pitchers take closer to 14 months to return. Of course, even if Hudson were to return, he likely wouldn’t be an option for the Cardinals until the final few weeks of the season. Any innings from Hudson would be a bonus, and it’s worth noting that we don’t know what type of role he’d have if he indeed made it back. It’s feasible the Cards would want to limit his pitch counts, so fans shouldn’t bank on Hudson stepping in and salvaging what’s been an injury-decimated starting staff.
A few more notes on the Cardinals’ pitching staff…
- Alex Reyes has stepped up as an All-Star closer for the Cards in 2021, delivering on the potential that has long made him one of the game’s most prized pitching prospects. However, the right-hander tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he’d still like the opportunity to pitch out of the rotation in 2022. The 26-year-old Reyes has pitched to a minuscule 1.52 ERA and gone 20-for-20 in save chances this season, although his sky-high 18.2 percent walk rate still leaves plenty of room for improvement. This year’s 41 1/3 innings are also the most Reyes has thrown in a single season since 2016, as injuries have decimated the early phases of his career. Reyes totaled just 87 innings combined from 2017-20. The Cardinals control him via arbitration through 2023.
- Manager Mike Shildt cast some doubt on Jordan Hicks’ recovery timeline in his latest update on the injured righty (via Zachary Silver of MLB.com). Hicks only recently resumed playing catch, and a full return to baseball activities isn’t particularly close, it seems. Silver notes that Schildt indicated that it “remains to be seen” whether Hicks will make it back to the roster in 2021 at all. Hicks hit the injured list in early May with inflammation in his elbow, but additional testing led to an injection that shut him down entirely for a period of six weeks. The 24-year-old, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season for health concerns (diabetes), has thrown 10 innings in 2021. He’s allowed six runs on five hits and 10 walks with 10 strikeouts. Like Reyes, he’s controllable through the 2023 campaign.