The Cardinals just keep playing the Cardinal Way. They haven’t been as good as the Brewers, as dramatic as the Cubs, or as divisive as the Reds, but after trouncing Milwaukee last night, the Cardinals are just 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot. It was a familiar pair leading the way as Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina synced up as the starting battery for the 300th time. They are now the fourth most-prolific duo of all-time, and if they make 25 more starts together, they’ll be at the top of the all-time list.
Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals are planning a one-year extension offer for their longtime ace, whenever he’s ready, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Molina is already locked in for 2022 — his final season before retirement. There are not sufficient superlatives to quantify Wainwright’s standing in baseball, but even isolating his contributions this year, he’s one of the most reliable starters in the game: 27 starts, 176 innings, 2.91 ERA, 3.6 fWAR. The 40-year-old amazingly ranks third in the Majors in innings pitched, behind only Zack Wheeler and Walker Buehler.
In terms of the Cardinals’ other ace, Jack Flaherty could return this season in a bullpen/piggyback role, notes Goold. Just a few weeks ago it seemed that the prudent call would be to shut Flaherty down for the year, but with a wild card spot very much in play, Flaherty could still make an impact. An oblique injury put Flaherty on the 60-day injured list earlier, but after a brief return, he went back on the shelf with a shoulder strain. His return could be a huge boon to the Cardinals in September if he’s able to come back firing on all cylinders.
Junior Fernandez, however, has been shut down for the year with a Grade 2 right lat strain, per MLB.com’s Zachary Silver (via Twitter). The injury will not require surgery, and Fernandez should have no problem getting ready for 2022. The 24-year-old has made 18 appearances out of the pen, tossed 20 2/3 innings, and logged a 5.66 ERA/5.14 FIP.