5:03 pm: Flaherty has indeed been activated to start this evening’s game against the Cubs. Lefty Brandon Waddell was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to open active roster space.
10:24 am: The Cardinals announced Friday that right-hander Dakota Hudson has been activated from the 60-day injured list and added to the active roster as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader. The Cards already had an open 40-man spot after releasing Daniel Ponce de Leon this week. Opening Day starter Jack Flaherty is still expected to be activated from the 10-day injured list in a separate move today, tweets MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. He’s the scheduled starter for Game 2 of the twin bill.
It’s an unusually quick turnaround for Hudson, who underwent Tommy John surgery less than one year ago but has already completed a minor league rehab assignment that saw him start five games across three different levels. Hudson built up to five innings in each of his two most recent starts, tossing 57 and 68 pitches, respectively, as he continued building up arm strength. He held opponents to a 0.96 ERA through 18 2/3 frames of rehab work, albeit with a less-than-stellar 10-to-8 K/BB ratio.
Of course, some rust is to b expected given the nature of his injury and the subsequent layoff. That Hudson is able to contribute this season at all is fairly remarkable in and of itself, and his return could serve as a notable boon for a surging Cardinals club.
The 27-year-old righty has been quite effective when healthy, pitching to a 3.17 ERA through his first 241 Major League innings. Because of sub-par 20.5 percent and 9.9 percent strikeout and walk rates, fielding-independent metrics aren’t quite so bullish (4.74 FIP, 4.55 xFIP). There’s no doubting that Hudson, an extreme ground-ball pitcher (57.3 percent), has benefited from a perennially excellent Cardinals infield defense. That said, the St. Louis infield as as good as ever now that Nolan Arenado has been installed at the hot corner, and his heavy sinker ought to serve the Cards well whether Hudson is used as a starter, an opener or in some type of relief role.
A return from Hudson was never viewed as a given, but manager Mike Shildt began to plant the seeds that it was at least possible several months back. Hudson will now have the opportunity to help a scorching-hot Cardinals club that has won a dozen consecutive games — all but icing a Wild Card berth in the National League along the way. Hudson’s usage and effectiveness down the stretch could be instructive as to how he’d be deployed in a potential playoff series, should the Cards advance beyond the Wild Card round of play.