Tyler O’Neill left Sunday’s game with a finger injury, but the good news for the St. Louis Cardinals is that it’s not considered serious.
Since coming off the injured list, Tyler O’Neill has become one of the St. Louis Cardinals’ best outfielders. He is hitting for power and providing strong defense once again in left field.
So when he left Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres, there was obviously concern. Any time you lose a player of his caliber is a blow. But the good news is the injury, suffered while stealing second base in the sixth inning, is only considered a sprained left middle finger and he is day to day, manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Katie Woo of The Athletic.
With O’Neill likely to miss a couple games, they can rely on their internal options such as Lane Thomas and Austin Dean to fill the void, among others, while O’Neill allows his sprained finger to heal.
But O’Neill will return soon, barring a setback, and keep him on pace for a breakout season. He is hitting .250/.290/.530 with eight home runs in 107 plate appearances. There are areas of his game that need work, most notably his 32.7 percent strikeout rate, but he has a 122 wRC+ in large part because of that power and his ability to make consistent hard contact.
O’Neill‘s strong start is why the Cardinals felt comfortable with their current outfielders and didn’t pursue a big name free agent this winter. They always knew he had good power, but may not have envisioned home runs at this pace. But it’s allowed him to get meaningful at-bats and find a consistent spot in the Cardinals lineup alongside Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Dylan Carlson.
Losing O’Neill for any length of time is a blow to the Cardinals lineup. But that he should only miss a couple games, and not anything more than that, should have the entire organization breathing a sigh of relief.