Cardinals: Kodi Whitley injury underscores St. Louis needs upgrades

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Kodi Whitley (38) delivers a pitch during a spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Kodi Whitley (38) delivers a pitch during a spring training game between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Kodi Whitley injury does not appear serious for the St. Louis Cardinals, but it underscores their need for bullpen upgrades.

The St. Louis Cardinals have dealt with a series of injuries this season, especially in the bullpen and outfield, and those problems have only gotten worse in recent days and weeks.

On Sunday, the Cardinals placed reliever Kodi Whitley on the injured list with mid back spasms and recalled pitcher Seth Elledge.

Whitley, 26, had started the season strong. He allowed only two runs and four hits in 9.2 innings pitched, appearing to be a solid option in the bullpen as the team sought to find capable relievers with Jordan Hicks and Andrew Miller on the IL. But he has allowed six runs (five earned) in his last 0.2 innings pitched, giving up six hits while walking two with zero strikeouts.

Perhaps the back spasms are the reason for his recent struggles and a stint on the IL, which the team is hopeful will not extend too long, can get him back to his early season form. But the Cardinals will need Elledge and others in the bullpen to step up to improve the team’s 18th ranked 4.12 ERA.

Miller is expected to return soon, so that should help improve that number. But the Cardinals will need to explore upgrades at the trade deadline to improve the unit, with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Richard Rodriguez, Minnesota Twins’ Alexander Colome and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Caleb Smith among the many options the team can – and likely will – evaluate come July 30.

The recent injuries to Hicks and Miller, and now Whitley, further underscores that need. The Cardinals have still managed to start the season 30-23 and lead the National League Central. But if they want to continue that deep into the season, while also managing the starting rotations workload, they should explore at least one or two additions at the deadline.

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The Whitley injury, while minor in nature, would seem to further illustrate that.

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