While our immediate focus is on the postseason matchup with the Padres this week, the Cardinals got some sour news as we think forward to next season. On Sunday, the team announced that Dakota Hudson needs Tommy John surgery, putting his 2021 season in jeopardy.
The 26-year-old, right-handed Hudson exited his start back on 9/17 after two innings with tightness in his elbow. Hudson was placed on the 10-day injured list on 9/18 and moved to the 60-day IL a few days later, ruling him out for the remainder of this year. Following consultations with team physicians and Dr. James Andrews, the true severity of Hudson’s ailment and the need for reconstructive surgery were found. Hudson is set to have surgery on Monday in St. Louis.
Hudson’s unavailability for 2021 adds to a list of question marks that currently surrounds the team’s rotation plans for next year. Adam Wainwright will be a free agent at the end of this season. Miles Mikolas is recovering from forearm surgery, and there’s always uncertainty with how one will fare in a return to the big league mound. And we don’t know what’s going to happen with Carlos Martinez. Last week, Martinez was placed on the injured list with an oblique strain — perhaps a start to an explanation of his season-long struggles this year.
Looking at positive notes, Jack Flaherty will return for his age-25 season, and Kwang Hyun Kim will be back after an impressive rookie season in 2020. Wainwright is pitching like he is 29 instead of 39, and he would probably be interested in returning. Johan Oviedo, Daniel Ponce de Leon, and Austin Gomber stepped up to help the team trudge through 11 doubleheaders, and it seems likely they will be competing for a rotation spot (or spots?) come spring time.
As we know, the frame for Tommy John surgery recovery can be anywhere from nine months to 14 months; it just depends on the case. So, while it’s iffy that we will see him with the MLB squad for next year, it’s possible that Hudson could get some in-game work in the Minors, if there is a season.