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The Cardinals on Friday received bad news regarding one of their most reliable starting pitchers. Cardinals team president John Mozeliak says right-hander Dakota Hudson is unlikely to pitch again in 2020 because of a flexor tendon issue in his throwing arm, according to Mark Saxon of The Athletic.

Hudson left his most recent start after just two innings after he reported arm discomfort. He underwent an MRI on Friday, although the results have not yet been disclosed by the club. Hudson, who just turned 26, has been one of the Cardinals' top starting pitchers this season: 

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Dakota Hudson
SP •
ERA2.77
WHIP1
IP39
BB15
K31

For his career, he boasts an ERA+ of 133 across parts of three big league seasons, so he's been a reliable source of run prevention since arriving in St. Louis. 

The news comes at an especially bad time for the Cardinals, who despite being two games below .500 going into Friday's doubleheader against the Pirates are still very much in the mix for a playoff spot in the NL. Thanks to a COVID-19 cluster that affected the roster earlier in the season, the Cardinals went more than two weeks without playing a game. In order to get to 60 games, the Cardinals were forced to schedule several doubleheaders, and after Friday night's twin bill they'll have played 43 games in 34 days. 

That's incredibly taxing on any pitching staff, even one that appeared to be as deep as St. Louis' coming into the season. Even before the Hudson news, the Cardinals were slated to start Daniel Ponce de Leon (and his 6.23 ERA) on short rest in the night cap on Friday. Ponce de Leon wasn't even in the rotation to start the season. Miles Mikolas remains out for the season, and IL stints for Carlos Martinez and Kwang Hyun Kim further strained the roster. That's to say nothing of the injuries to the bullpen. 

The loss of Hudson, though, is another level of blow to the teams hopes, as he would've been in line to make two more full-rest starts during the regular season. Given the tight margins in the NL, those missing starts could be key for a contender running out of pitching in a hurry.