The Cardinals have claimed right-hander Ljay Newsome off waivers from the Mariners, both clubs announced Friday. Newsome was on the Mariners’ 60-day injured list after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer and, for the time being, will remain on the 60-day IL with the Cardinals, per the team. That’ll be a temporary move for the Cards, who’ll need to either pass Newsome through waivers themselves or clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster by eventually removing someone else.
Newsome, 24, has just 12 Major League games under his belt and has struggled in that time, pitching to a 6.53 ERA in 30 frames. His 18.2 percent strikeout rate is a good bit shy of the league average, but Newsome has walked just four of the 137 Major League hitters he’s faced (2.9 percent) — and one of those was intentional. During his last full minor league season, the former 26th-rounder pitched 155 innings across three levels, working to a 3.54 ERA with an outstanding 169-to-17 K/BB ratio: a 27.3 percent overall strikeout rate and just a 2.7 percent walk rate.
On top of a strong minor league track record, Newsome also has multiple minor league option years remaining beyond the current season. He obviously won’t be an option early in the 2022 campaign, but he could give the Cardinals (or another team, depending on the organization’s plan for him) a depth option either in the rotation or as a multi-inning option in the ’pen. Newsome sat at 91.5 mph with his heater in 2020 when he worked primarily as a starter, but he made 13 of his 14 appearances in 2021 out of the bullpen and saw that average velocity tick up to 93 mph.
The Cardinals were bitten hard by a lack of rotation depth this summer when the majority of their rotation landed on the injured list at the same time. Those struggles prompted the Cards to bring in veterans Wade LeBlanc, J.A. Happ and Jon Lester in the weeks running up to the July 30 trade deadline. All three are free agents this winter, as is southpaw Kwang Hyun Kim, so it’s only natural to see the Cardinals looking to stack up a little extra depth. Next year’s rotation is set to include Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, with younger candidates for that fifth spot including Matthew Liberatore and Jake Woodford (in addition to Alex Reyes, if he’s moved out of the bullpen).