St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson will have Tommy John surgery Monday, reports MLB.com's Anne Rogers. Given the typical Tommy John surgery rehab timetable, Hudson is very likely to miss the entire 2021 season. Any setbacks or delays could cut into his 2022 as well.
Hudson, 26, landed on the injured list with an elbow strain on Sept. 18 and manager Mike Shildt called his concern "very low" at the time. The injury ended Hudson's season, but the Cardinals were hopeful he would avoid surgery. Instead, further testing revealed damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, and surgery is necessary.
In eight starts prior to the injury, Hudson had a 2.77 ERA with a very strong 56.7 percent ground ball rate. Last year he broke out with a 3.35 ERA in 174 2/3 innings, and although his strikeout (career 7.0 K/9) and walk (career 4.4 BB/9) rates are unimpressive, Hudson makes up for a great sinker (career 57.3 percent grounders).
Adam Wainwright turned 39 last month and is year-to-year at this point of his career. If he returns next year, great. If not, the Cardinals are looking at this internal rotation depth chart with Hudson unavailable in 2021:
- RHP Jack Flaherty
- LHP Kwang Hyun Kim
- RHP Carlos Martinez
- RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon
- LHP Austin Gomber
- RHP Johan Oviedo
Martinez's days as a starter may be over given his ineffectiveness and injury trouble the last few years. A permanent move to the bullpen may be in order. Gomber, Oviedo, and Ponce de Leon have never pitched a full season at the MLB level. Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman represent the best the free agent market has to offer.
Sunday is the final day of the abbreviated 2020 season and the Cardinals are still in the race for a postseason berth. They'll clinch a spot with a win over the Brewers, though some scenarios would force them to play a doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday.