The St. Louis Cardinals enter the 2021 season with arguably their most talented roster in the past decade, highlighted by Paul Goldschmidt and the addition of All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado. The roster, however, will be without some of its top players as they recover from injury.
Pitchers Miles Mikolas, Kwang Hyun Kim and Dakota Hudson and outfielder Harrison Bader will begin the season on the Injured List, the team announced.
Mikolas was never going to start the season on the major-league roster once he suffered a setback in his return from a shoulder injury. The Cardinals have been cautious setting any timelines in his recovery, but recognize that he will be out for a lengthy amount of time. In his absence, along with the team will have John Gant and Daniel Ponce de Leon fill in to eat innings in the rotation.
Hudson is a different story, considering that he always planned to begin the season on the IL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Kim is dealing with a back injury, though the Cardinals have been encouraged by his progress recently and do not believe he will be out much longer. But both Kim and Mikolas being out on Opening Day put increased pressure on the pitching staff to eat innings, and at a high level.
Bader is entering the most important season of his career, and will miss multiple weeks as he recovers from a forearm injury. He has not hidden that he wants to win a Gold Glove Award this year. But where he needs to make the biggest strides is at the plate, specifically against right-handed pitchers, and not being on the field for the first few weeks/month of the season could put his long-term outlook with the team in doubt if he struggles once he returns.