Already adjusting to a host of past and looming doubleheaders due to postponements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the St. Louis Cardinals now must shuffle their pitching staff to account for an injury to a thriving contributor.
Left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim was set to start Sunday night’s game against the host Chicago Cubs, but his recent diagnosis with a kidney ailment has landed him on the 10-day disabled list. Right-hander Dakota Hudson (1-2, 2.77 ERA) will get the call instead; the Cardinals pushed his scheduled start in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader back by one day.
St. Louis employed a bullpen game and didn’t miss a beat, as five relievers combined to pitch seven innings of three-hit ball to help the Cardinals (16-15) earn a sweep of the twin bill.
“It’s not an ideal scenario, in any way shape or form, but we’re fresher now … in a seven-inning situation with a guy that we feel can give us some length in that nine-inning game in Dakota,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “And then have some guys be able to have some rest beyond that for the doubleheader on Tuesday.”
Shildt will need to plan the pitching appearances for another pair of doubleheaders on the horizon, too. St. Louis is set to host Minnesota for a pair of games Tuesday before Detroit visits for two on Thursday.
Kim, who was taken to a Chicago hospital with abdominal soreness this weekend, is expected to return to St. Louis on Sunday. He is 2-0 with an 0.83 ERA and one save in five appearances this season covering 21 2/3 innings.
Kim is “completely pain free,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said on Saturday.
“The good news is, he is feeling much better and the optimism for him to pitch or the expectation for him to pitch at some point this year is still a real possibility,” Mozeliak said. “I think we’re just going to see what happens over the next week or so and how he responds to his medication, but he’s doing well, he feels good and obviously this is something we can control.”
St. Louis has won five of its past seven and has two more regular-season games against the National League Central-leading Cubs — Sunday night and Monday afternoon.
Left-hander Jon Lester (2-1, 5.11 ERA) will make the start for Chicago (23-17) as he gets his first look at the Cardinals this season. In 20 career starts against St. Louis, Lester is 8-6 with a 3.26 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings.
The Cubs have lost three of their past four but will look to get back on track as they play 10 of their next 13 at Wrigley Field.
“September’s been a big month, and it’s a lot of things that you learn about your teammates, a lot about your club, and you get to see where things are going to stand and shake out heading into October,” said Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, who is batting .476 with two home runs and three RBIs in the past seven games.
Hudson is 0-0 with a 2.89 ERA in four career appearances against the Cubs, including two starts, while scattering 15 strikeouts and 10 walks in 9 1/3 innings.
–Field Level Media