The St. Louis Cardinals may be getting closer to getting their pitching staff back to full strength, as left-handed starter Kwang-hyun Kim is scheduled to throw in a simulated game on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Kim is not expected to be able to return until late April, at the earliest, but this simulated game should provide a good barometer as to where he is at physically. But getting Kim back would be a major development for the Cardinals, who were hard pressed for rotation depth even before Kim’s injury in spring training.
Kim, 32, would immediately slide back into the top part of the rotation alongside Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright. His presence gives them a bonafide left-hander and provides a different look to hitters than the two right-handers.
Even then, the Cardinals have fared well without Kim, starting the season 2-2 and getting a solid performance from Carlos Martinez despite allowing four runs. They believe that the rough first outings for Flaherty and Wainwright are an anomaly and not a sign of things to come. If that is indeed the case, and the Cardinals can get solid production from each pitcher, then Kim would make their rotation even more potent when he returns.
The Cardinals, however, would be wise to take things slow with Kim, considering his importance to a season in which the team believes is destined to end in the postseason. They have been careful to not set any expectations during his rehab and appear to be easing him back into action.
Kim’s simulated outing will likely be his first of a few games, considering the minor-league season will not begin until May. And by that point, Kim could already be on the Cardinals’ major-league roster.