Helsley walked two batters without allowing a run in two-thirds of an inning to record his first save of the season in a 6-5 win over the Pirates in the first game of Friday's doubleheader. Alex Reyes got the first out of the seventh inning before handing the ball to Helsley, who loaded the bases with two outs thanks to a Paul DeJong error sandwiched between the free passes. The right-hander was then able to escape the jam by getting John Ryan Murphy to fly out to end the game. Helsley has not pitched well at all since coming off the COVID-19 list, posting an 11.81 ERA, 2.63 WHIP and 2:6 K:BB over 5.1 innings while going 1-for-3 on save chances, but he will apparently remain in the high-leverage mix for manager Mike Shildt.
Helsley (1-1) took the loss and a blown save in Game 1 of Monday's doubleheader against the Brewers, allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit and one walk across one-third of an inning. He struck out one. With Giovanny Gallegos (groin) on the injured list, Helsley was called upon to try and pick up the save after the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the eighth. He walked Avisail Garcia to start the frame before bouncing back to strike out of Christian Yelich. He was pulled a batter later after allowing a game-tying double to Ryan Braun and was ultimately charged with another run on Keston Hiura's sacrifice fly. Given Helsley's inability to shut the door Monday, it would not be surprising to see manager Mike Shildt go in a different direction next time the Cardinals come across a save chance.
Helsley was identified by manager Mike Shildt as a candidate to see save opportunities the rest of the season in the wake of Giovanny Gallegos' (groin) placement on the injured list, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports. Granted, the right-hander hasn't exactly built a compelling case for high-leverage work recently, as Helsley has allowed at least one earned run in four straight appearances and now carries a bloated 7.71 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over six trips to the mound. However, the 26-year-old certainly demonstrated upside in his rookie 2019 campaign, when he finished with a 2-0 record and 2.95 ERA in 36.2 innings. Moreover, Helsley posted double-digit K/9s at four different minor-league seasons and boasts a fastball that's currently averaging a tick under 97 mph, so the foundational tools for a ninth-inning role would appear to be there.
Helsley, who surrendered two earned runs on two hits over an inning while recording a strikeout in the first game of a doubleheader against the Twins on Tuesday, now has a 10.80 ERA across 3.1 innings in his first three appearances since returning from the COVID-19 injured list. Helsley had opened the season with a pair of perfect appearances before his and the Cardinals' seasons were both sidelined due to the team's coronavirus outbreak. The hard-throwing right-hander's struggles since his return underscore the notion the month-plus layoff particularly affected him; Helsley came into the season riding high off an impressive rookie campaign during which he posted a 2.95 ERA and didn't give up an earned run in more than two consecutive appearances over 36.2 innings.
Helsley allowed an earned run on a solo home run and allowed one other hit and a walk across one inning in a win over the Reds on Tuesday. The right-handed reliever was making his first appearance since July 29 after a bout with COVID-19 and an extended build-up period on the injured list. Helsley threw 15 pitches overall and surrendered a solo blast to Joey Votto, but some rust was to be expected after such a long layoff. Given the solid workload he logged Tuesday, Helsley should be ready for a steady role moving forward.