The Cardinals have placed right-handed pitcher Justin Miller on the injured list with an elbow strain, per a team announcement. Fellow righty Jake Woodford, who was optioned after yesterday’s double-header, has been recalled in a corresponding move.
The extent of Miller’s injury is not known at this time, though an elbow injury is always concerning for a pitcher. This will be his second trip to the IL this year, as he hit the shelf in August with right ulnar nerve irritation. The 34-year-old was claimed off waivers from the Nationals in July and has thrown 19 innings this year between the two clubs. Miller had a bloated ERA of 15.00 over a tiny three-inning sample with Washington but fared much better after swapping jerseys. In 16 innings with the Cardinals, he has an ERA of 4.50. With less than ten days remaining in the regular season, and the pitching staff recently being bolstered by the returns of Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson, it seems possible that Miller won’t return for the club this year. Though if he can return to health and the Cards go on a lengthy playoff run, they could circle back to him in the event of other injuries. He can be retained this offseason via arbitration but seems likely to be non-tendered.
The one bit of good news for the Cardinals in all this pertains to Edmundo Sosa. The shortstop was hit on the wrist by a pitch yesterday and immediately left the game. Manager Mike Shildt later told reporters, including Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat, that they couldn’t find evidence of a fracture and that Sosa would miss just a few days. The fact that he was not placed on the IL today suggests that estimate holds and that they don’t expect his absence to stretch into the postseason. The 25-year-old has been a pleasant surprise for the club this season, hitting .274/.348/.395. That adds up to a wRC+ of 106, his highest such mark at any level since a rookie ball stint back in 2017. Combined with quality defense, he’s been worth 1.8 wins above replacement this season, according to FanGraphs. The Cardinals can probably afford to be somewhat cautious with his recovery, given that they’re currently on an incredible 14-game winning streak, which has launched them into the final NL Wild Card spot, with a five-game cushion between them and their nearest competitors, the Phillies.
Paul DeJong should slot into short in Sosa’s place, for the time being. The 28-year-old’s bat has slipped a bit in recent years. From 2017 to 2019, he slashed .251/.318/.467, for a wRC+ of 108. But over 2020 and 2021, he’s hitting just .215/.299/.378, wRC+ of 88. Though thanks to good defensive numbers, he’s still been worth 2.1 fWAR in that time. DeJong is under contract through 2023, with a pair of club options for 2024 and 2025. The emergence of Sosa, who will have five years of control after this one, could give the club a surplus from which to trade. But Sosa has also played some second and third base this season, perhaps allowing the Cards to keep both and maintain flexibility.