The Cardinals announced the following transactions this afternoon:
9/5/20: Placed LHP Kwang Hyun Kim on the 10-day IL, retroactive to September 2nd (kidney infarction). Activated LHP Andrew Miller from the 10-day IL. Added RHP Nabil Crismatt as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader.
Before today’s announcement, the Cards expected the rotation to shape up something like this:
9/3: Open date
9/5: Wainwright and Hudson
9/8: Martinez and bullpen
9/9: Open date
9/10: Wainwright and Hudson
This would have allowed the Cards to throw each of their 5 regular starters against the Cubs. Now it has been announced (see Derrick Goold’s Post Dispatch story here and the Twitter announcement of Jeff Jones here that Kim was sent to the emergency room after complaining of abdominal pain and was found to have a blockage in his kidneys. All we have been told is that there is a possibility with rest and treatment that he will be able to pitch again this year.
Kim’s overall results have been great with a 0.83 ERA, but based on his peripherals, he was due for some serious regression. His strikeout rate was only 13.3% (4.57 K/9) compared to a 7.2% BB rate (2.49 BB/9) to go along with a .200 BABIP allowed. He was above average in limiting quality of contact, but far from elite. For this reason, Baseball Prospectus didn’t buy his season so far at all, giving him a 5.21 Deserved Run Average (DRA), which is their go-to overall metric for measuring pitching quality.
Nonetheless, his absence places the Cards’ rotation in a serious state of flux. Johan Oviedo, even if he does get hit very hard and has had trouble establishing a third pitch, has apparently locked down the job vacated by Daniel Ponce de Leon. It’s still unclear what to ultimately expect from Oviedo, given that he skipped the AAA level entirely. Ponce de Leon was going to pitch one of the games of today’s doubleheader until he wasn’t, and he hasn’t shown an ability to throw strikes or get deep into a game. Carlos Martinez is penciled in as the starter for one of the games of the doubleheader with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, September 8th, but he hasn’t pitched in a live game since his lone appearance of the year on July 28th. Jake Woodford could theoretically get stretched out as a starter, but he won’t be available for several days because he pitched 3 innings last night in relief of Jack Flaherty. He’s pitched 3 innings or more in 3 out of his 6 appearances. Genesis Cabrera, Austin Gomber and Alex Reyes have all been starter candidates in the past, but it’s almost certainly far too late at this point to get them stretched out to start. If Ponce de Leon isn’t going to get another shot, it looks like the Cards will have to live and die with Martinez and Woodford. Of the other guys on the 40-man, only Nabil Crismatt has starting experience in AAA, but again there’s likely no time to get him ready for such an assignment. The Cards will probably need both Martinez and Woodford because the Cardinals have 7 more doubleheaders on the schedule, including today’s games against the Cubs. For that reason, the club has talked about going with a 6-man rotation whenever Martinez is ready. There are only so many bullpen games the Cards can use with this gauntlet of games coming up.
For now, instead of starting Hudson in game two of today’s doubleheader, the Cards will go with a bullpen game (see announcement from Jeff Jones here) and push Hudson’s start back a day. That is the most sensible course, because without Martinez being ready, they would certainly be better off throwing a bullpen game in a 7-inning game instead of tomorrow in a 9-inning game. In the meantime, the activation of Andrew Miller and the addition of Crismatt today gives the Cards 12 theoretical relievers to get through at least today. I will keep you updated on any further developments with the pitching staff.