It seemed highly likely, based on the initial reports about their shoulders, that the St. Louis Cardinals would be without ace Jack Flaherty and part-time closer Alex Reyes to open the season. It’s looking like not only will that be true, it might be an extended absence.
Both pitchers have received recent injections, are completely shut down, and could be looking at a return timeline that contemplates a 60-day IL stint (if not much more):
Alex Reyes was diagnosed with a frayed labrum in his throwing shoulder and received a stem cell injection from Dr. Andrews, as previously reported. He will be no throw for “at least” two weeks. #stlcards expect his return in late May or early June.
— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) March 18, 2022
Certainly the news there on Reyes sounds worse than Flaherty, but those are actually both labrum issues (which is baseball’s “most fearsome” pitcher injury). But it sounds like the way it was described makes Reyes’s more concerning than Flaherty’s.
Still, I want to provide some context. Anything impacting the labrum, for a pitcher, is really concerning. Whereas it can sometimes be a situation where a guy can rest for a month or two and then come back pitching through it without issue, it is sometimes a situation where a guy can come back and pitch but he’s not quite the same. Or, worst of all, it can be a situation that requires surgery, and I just don’t remember a lot of great pitcher outcomes when surgery on the labrum takes place. You just want to avoid that surgery if at all possible.
This phrasing, on Flaherty’s injury, from Cardinals president John Mozeliak would really scare me if I were an anxious Cardinals fan: “They still think this is something that he can pitch through, and our fingers are crossed that that’s true. In terms of how to feel good about something, I guess this is probably better than what we could have been told, because he still has a chance. But any time you are dealing with this, it’s not great news. We’ve got to see if we [can] manage through this from a physical therapy standpoint and see if we can get him back on the mound.”
Yikes. At a human level, I hope all of that is true, too. Both for Flaherty and for Reyes. I have no interest in cheering injuries.
If the Cardinals are now without Flaherty and Reyes for months – or more (maybe much more) – then the reality is that their outlook for the season is substantially impacted. They’ve gotta be scrambling like mad to try to add pitching, though I haven’t seen the fruits of it yet.
For the Cubs, this matters. It’s ugly, but it matters. If the Cardinals – one of the teams clearly ahead of them on paper in the NL Central – are now going to be missing two key pitchers for a very long time, it might make you slightly more optimistic that you can compete this year. The Cubs, of course, are about to be missing a lot of their own key pitchers for a long time (Adbert Alzolay, Codi Heuer, and Brad Wieck), though I’m not sure any, or even all combined, are quite to the level of Flaherty.