Kwang Hyun Kim is off the injured list and he will be pitching out of the bullpen. How does that impact the St Louis Cardinals?
We wrote the other day about how the St. Louis Cardinals would need to navigate a logjam in the starting rotation. We figured that Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas would each man the top three spots in the rotation.
Kwang Hyun Kim, however, is transitioning to the bullpen, manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Katie Woo of The Athletic. The Cardinals believe that Kim’s recovery from elbow soreness will be shorter if he pitches out of the bullpen rather than in the rotation, hence why the move is being made.
The Cardinals’ deep rotation is what allowed them to make such a move — and while it is a risk, Kim did not experience any elbow soreness in his first rehab appearance for the Triple-A Redbirds. He pitched two innings in relief in Memphis and should provide length and stability for a bullpen that has eaten a significant number of innings this season as the rotation has been decimated by injuries.
Transitioning to the bullpen could take some time for Kim. While he started the 2020 season as the Cardinals’ closer before moving to the rotation, he made only one appearance out of the bullpen. There is still a possibility that the Cardinals use Kim as their sixth starter later in the season, which affords Shildt and the coaching staff some options and flexibility with how they attack different teams.
Having Kim back, even in a limited capacity, is a big development for the Cardinals. It comes on the heels of them losing four of five games, including two to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the offense falling right back to its inconsistent ways after showing some signs of life during a six-game winning streak early last week.
One way to take the pressure off the offense is by pitching well. With Kim back, and other starters not far from returning, now might be the Cardinals’ best chance at getting closer to the Padres and Reds in the National League wild card race.