Cardinals: Dakota Hudson increasingly likely to return this season
While Jordan Hicks is out for the season, the St Louis Cardinals are increasingly likely to have Dakota Hudson return to the bullpen.
Just as St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak revealed that Jordan Hicks is a candidate to join the starting rotation, he also shared some more news: that Hicks is more than likely out for the season as he recovers from an elbow injury.
On the flip side, the Cardinals now expect pitcher Dakota Hudson to return at some point this season — something that didn’t seem plausible until a month ago. But Hudson is ahead of Hicks in his recovery and, if he is able to return, should provide a nice boost to a pitching staff that desperately needs fresh arms to eat innings.
Hudson, 26, is recovering from Tommy John surgery that cut a promising 2020 season short. He had a 2.77 ERA in eight starts, pitching 39 innings and producing a 31/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and appeared destined to be a pillar in the rotation long-term. But when Hudson returns, he will have to cut down on walks (he allowed 86 in 174.2 innings) and prove that he can stay healthy — and pitching in 2021, in any capacity, will allow him to enter the offseason with innings under his belt.
But the Cardinals will likely have Hudson pitch out of the bullpen, ideally in one inning stints. There is no point in pushing him too hard this season, especially as they are now 11 games back in the National League Central, and the Jon Lester and J.A. Happ additions will allow them to ease Hudson back into action.
That said, having Hudson back this season is a nice surprise for the Cardinals. Entering the regular season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he wouldn’t pitch in 2021. But he is ramping things up in Florida, throwing bullpens and facing live hitters, and manager Mike Shildt continually has left the door open for his potential return this season.
There is still a ways to go before Hudson could potentially return to the majors, of course, but all indications are he’s making steady progress. And in a season that looks increasingly likely to end without a postseason berth, possibly getting Hudson back is a positive for them now and going forward.