5:22pm: Molina will likely miss around three weeks and surgery won’t be required, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and other media.
4:14pm: The Cardinals have announced (Twitter links) a series of roster moves in advance of their second-half opener on Friday. Catcher Yadier Molina is heading to the 10-day injured list due to a right thumb tendon strain, with an IL placement retroactive to July 8. Coming back from the IL is infielder Matt Carpenter, who has been out of action since June 29 with a lower back sprain. The Cards also sent Rangel Ravelo and southpaw Tyler Webb to Triple-A and moved Jordan Hicks to the 60-day IL, while calling up catcher Andrew Knizner and selecting the contract of left-hander Chasen Shreve from Triple-A.
This is the second time this season that Molina has missed time due to his troublesome right thumb, as the same injury also put the longtime St. Louis backstop on the IL from May 31 to June 11. It’s fair to assume that the nagging nature of Molina’s thumb problem is at least partially responsible for his lack of production this season, though Molina was also struggling prior to May 31. Overall, Molina has only a .261/.286/.368 slash line and four homers over 276 plate appearances, making him one of several veteran Cardinals who are seemingly all having down years at the same time.
This list includes Carpenter, who has a career-worst .216/.325/.381 with 10 home runs over 326 PA. While his IL stint was minimal, he and the Cards are surely hoping that this brief time off combined with the All-Star break is enough to finally get his bat moving close to the MVP-level production that Carpenter provided over the last three-plus months of the 2018 season. Carpenter only had a .739 OPS over his first 234 PA last season before exploding for a .983 OPS over his final 443 PA.
Last season’s results notwithstanding, Carpenter’s cold streak this season has lasted longer and reached deeper depths than his slow start to 2018. His power and hard-hit ball rates have both fallen significantly, while the quality of his contact has also dropped off (.324 xwOBA in 2019, as opposed to a .392 xwOBA in 2018).
Carpenter will resume his usual duties at third base, though the hot-hitting Tommy Edman retained his spot on the MLB roster after his strong performance as Carpenter’s fill-in. Knizner and Matt Wieters will handle the catching duties while Molina is out.