The Cardinals announced a set of roster moves, headlined by Adam Wainwright’s activation from the 15-day injured list. St. Louis also selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Suarez, moved Ryan Helsley to the 60-day injured list, and optioned catcher Ivan Herrera and left-hander Zack Thompson to Triple-A.
Wainwright will take the ball to start tonight’s game against the Diamondbacks, as the veteran will try to get his 18th and final Major League season on track. He last pitched on July 4, as shoulder inflammation and (as implied by Cardinals manager Olli Marmol) a broader range of nagging injuries sent Wainwright to the IL for the second time this season. He also started the year on the IL due to a groin injury that delayed his 2023 debut until May 6.
It seems clear that Wainwright simply hasn’t been himself all year, as the 41-year-old has been hit hard to the tune of a 7.66 ERA over 11 starts and 51 2/3 innings. His injuries are quite possibly to blame, or it could be that time has simply caught up to a pitcher who has defied convention by remaining an effective starter into his 40’s. In the best-case scenario, this latest absence will act as a reset for Wainwright and allow him to finish his career on high note, albeit amidst a very disappointing Cardinals season.
Suarez signed a minor league deal with St. Louis during the offseason, and now looks set to make his first MLB appearance since 2020. Breaking into the bigs with three seasons pitching for the Giants, Suarez posted a 4.66 ERA over 202 2/3 innings with San Francisco before heading overseas. Suarez pitched well for the KBO League’s LG Twins in 2021, but a move from South Korea to Japan didn’t pan out — he had a 6.23 ERA over 21 2/3 innings with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2022, pitching most of the year with the Swallows’ top minor league affiliate.
The move back to North America has served Suarez reasonably well, as he has a 4.08 ERA, 24.5% strikeout rate, and 8.9% walk rate in 64 innings with Triple-A Memphis. Working mostly as a multi-inning reliever, Suarez has been stretched out as a starter in his last three outings, and could be paired with Wainwright in a piggyback combo while Wainwright gets fully ramped up. Since several Cardinals starters are trade candidates heading into the deadline, Suarez might get an opportunity should one or more holes in the rotation open up.
Helsley’s 15-day IL stint began on June 10, and he was expected to miss at least a few more weeks anyway since he only recently started throwing bullpen sessions. The reliever is recovering from a forearm strain, and told MLB.com and other reporters that he was taking a more cautious approach to his recovery after trying “to rush back too quick” from a similar injury in 2018.