President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Saturday that he imagines Hudson opening the season as a member of the big-league bullpen, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Hudson was viewed as one of many high-end starting prospects in the St. Louis farm system entering 2018, but the 24-year-old was deployed exclusively out of the bullpen upon getting the call to the majors shortly after the All-Star break. Relying heavily on his big fastball, Hudson accrued a 2.63 ERA and generated a 60.8 percent groundball rate across 27.1 innings, though a 19:18 K:BB and 1.35 WHIP limited his fantasy appeal. The Cardinals haven't closed the door on Hudson earning a look as a starter at some point -- in fact, Mozeliak said the righty would be on a starter's throwing program this spring -- but the organization's considerable rotation depth will relegate Hudson to a setup role for the time being.
Hudson (2-0) was credited with the win in Saturday's 8-4 victory over the Pirates, throwing three perfect innings of relief and striking out one.
Taking over from Austin Gomber to begin the fifth inning, Hudson breezed through the Pirates' lineup in 28 pitches (22 strikes). The rookie now has two wins in four relief appearances and has yet to give up a run, potentially putting Hudson in line to move into the rotation if Gomber struggles or another St. Louis starting pitcher gets hurt.
Hudson (1-0) allowed a hit and a walk over a scoreless inning in an extra-inning win over the Rockies on Monday. He also recorded a strikeout.
The rookie worked around a couple of trouble spots in his one frame and then was awarded a win courtesy of Marcell Ozuna's walk-off blast in the home half of the 10th. The fact that interim manager Mike Shildt trusted Hudson to preserve a 4-4 tie instead of bringing closer Bud Norris out for a second frame in the 10th speaks to the pedigree of the young right-hander, who was enjoying a stellar campaign at Triple-A Memphis before his recent callup.
Hudson made his major-league debut in a win over the Cubs on Saturday, firing a scoreless seventh inning in which he struck out two.
The promising prospect looked as sharp as he's been in Triple-A Memphis all season, mowing through the trio of Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and the pinch-hitting Victor Caratini on an efficient 13 pitches. Hudson has racked up 13 wins for the Redbirds thus far this season, and although he'll initially work in the bullpen with the big-league club, he could eventually earn a spot start before the end of the season, especially if Michael Wacha (oblique) and Adam Wainwright (elbow) remain sidelined for the foreseeable future.
He is set to make his big-league debut, but despite posting a 2.50 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A, Hudson's first big-league exposure will come in relief. While the 23-year-old righty has a shiny ERA and plenty of pedigree (No. 34 overall pick in 2016), he lacks the stuff to generate a ton of whiffs in the big leagues, and relies primarily on keeping the ball on the ground (57.5 percent groundball rate at Triple-A).
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