The St. Louis Cardinals suddenly find themselves in a battle for the NL Central, and now they’ve learned they’ll be without one of their key pieces for the remainder of the season.
Though right-hander Carlos Martinez has avoided a major injury to his right shoulder, the team announced he’ll be shut down for the rest of the season. The time frame for recovery also includes the postseason, regardless of how far the Cardinals make it.
Martinez was forced to leave Saturday’s start against the Milwaukee Brewers after just seven pitches. Martinez could be seen favoring his shoulder, often shaking it after pitches in an attempt to get loose. Martinez was escorted off the field with his face buried in his glove, indicating this was more than just simple soreness. An MRI confirmed as much Saturday, revealing that Martinez suffered a Grade 2 strain.
The good news is that Martinez is expected to avoid surgery. The Cardinals are confident the issue will be treated with rest, which would put him on track to get in his offseason work and be ready for spring training.
“If this happened, say, Aug. 1, he probably would pitch again,” said general manager John Mozeliak. “But unfortunately, where we are on the calendar, it’s just not going to work out.”
It’s just a matter of bad timing, or in this case really bad timing for St. Louis. One day, they’re feeling optimistic about their rotation depth with the possible return of Adam Wainwright. Now the urgency to get Wainwright back escalates a bit.
Barring additional injury, the Cardinals will go with Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and John Lackey as their postseason starters. That’s not a bad four at all, but it lacks that second dynamic arm. That’s what Martinez has brought all season. Over his 179 2/3 innings, he posted a 3.01 ERA and 184/63 K/BB ratio, which essentially filled the hole left by Wainwright.
Now the Cardinals go into October knowing they won’t have Martinez and not knowing what they’ll get from Wainwright. That’s a scary proposition.
Even scary? The Pittsburgh Pirates are just 2 1/2 games back in the NL Central. The division will be earned in the final week.
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