3:56PM: Matz has a torn MCL in his left knee, MLB.com’s John Denton reports (via Twitter). Based similar injuries to other players, this will likely mean at least a 4-6 week absence for Matz, though it isn’t yet known if he’ll require surgery.
3:38PM: The Cardinals announced some roster moves today, one in regards to today’s game and three others in advance of their upcoming two-game series in Toronto. Most immediately, left-hander Steven Matz was placed on the 15-day injured list due to a left knee sprain, and righty James Naile was called up from Triple-A Memphis.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays, the Cards will place Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Austin Romine on the restricted list. The trio aren’t vaccinated, and thus become the latest players ineligible to cross the border due to Canadian federal vaccine mandates. Goldschmidt, Arenado, and Romine will forfeit two games’ worth of salary for the missed time. Catcher Ivan Herrera, utilityman Cory Spangenberg, and outfielder Conner Capel are expected to be added to the roster as replacements.
Most teams traveling to Toronto this season have had to work around at least a couple of vaccine-related absences, with the Royals (who had 10 players on their restricted list) representing the extreme end of the scale. While St. Louis is missing “only” three players, however, losing superstars like Goldschmidt and Arenado for even two games certainly isn’t an ideal situation. Losing Romine also thins out a catching depth chart that is still missing the injured Yadier Molina.
Johan Oviedo’s status for the Blue Jays series is also in question, as the Cards reliever and Cuba native has an expired passport. Manager Oliver Marmol told reporters (including MLB.com’s John Denton) that Oviedo might still be able to make it if he is able to obtain a special temporary waiver from the Canadian consulate in Miami.
While Matz wouldn’t have pitched in the series since he just started yesterday, he’ll also miss a chance to return to Toronto after pitching for the Jays in 2021. Matz was only activated from the 15-day IL earlier this week, after missing two months due to a shoulder impingement. Unfortunately, the southpaw then hurt his knee in his very first start back, as Matz took an awkward step while trying to field a grounder in the sixth inning of Saturday’s 6-3 victory over the Reds. Matz still earned the win, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk in his 5 1/3 innings of work while striking out seven.
It was a solid outing in what has been an otherwise tough season for Matz, between his earlier injury and his inconsistent work over his first nine outings. Even with Saturday’s game factored in, Matz still has a 5.70 ERA over 42 2/3 innings in his first season in a Cardinals uniform. However, a 3.13 SIERA and strong strikeout and walk rates indicate that Matz has also been pretty unlucky, as he isn’t getting much good fortune on the BABIP (.336) and strand rate (66.2%) fronts.
Saturday’s start was a step in the right direction, and yet it will now be some time before Matz can follow up on that performance. The lefty will undergo more tests and imaging, and a clearer timeline could soon be known about when Matz might be able to get back on a mound.
The Cardinals were already rumored to be looking into rotation help at the deadline, so Matz’s IL status will likely only deepen the team’s needs. In the short term, however, St. Louis only has five games over the next eight days, so all of these off-days can allow the Cards to get by with less than five starters. Dakota Hudson is tentatively slated to be activated from his own 15-day IL stint next weekend, after hitting the IL on July 15 due to a neck strain.