A quietly important piece of “the Jason Heyward trade” this offseason was quality set-up man Jordan Walden, who also came over to the St. Louis Cardinals in the trade with the Atlanta Braves.
So far this year, Walden has posted a microscopic 0.87 ERA over 10.1 (high-leverage) innings for the Cardinals, pairing that with a 1.96 FIP, a 28.6% K rate and a 9.5% BB rate. He’s been dominant, and a huge part of the Cardinals’ early bullpen success.
And the Cubs won’t have to face him this week.
Walden has been dealing with biceps discomfort for a few days, and the Cardinals opted to place him on the disabled list and call up 22-year-old righty Sam Tuivailala from AAA. It’s a blow to a Cardinals bullpen that has pitched through three consecutive extra-inning games, and has got to be taxed despite having eight members at the moment.
Tuivailala is a relief prospect who has pitched well in the upper minors for the Cardinals, and was likely a future a contributor anyway. He could be quite good, though it’s hard to see anyone immediately stepping in an “replacing” Walden’s performance.
The Cubs and Cardinals start a four-game set in St. Louis tonight. Cubs batters will have to work extra hard to get starters out of the game early.