What is the future for St. Louis Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson?

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ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 14: Dakota Hudson #43 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on May 14, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 14: Dakota Hudson #43 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on May 14, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dakota Hudson’s struggles could make him the odd man out next year.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said he will skip pitcher Dakota Hudson’s scheduled start on Aug. 17, undoubtedly hoping it will be a reset for the 27-year-old right-hander, who has stumbled to a career-high 4.17 ERA this year. Marmol said he wants Hudson to work on his approach against left-handed batters, against whom he has had trouble finding the plate, allowing 32 of his 50 walks.

If Hudson can’t find a groove this season, the Cardinals might need to make a decision on his future with the club. The team has several rotation options for next season: Miles Mikolas and a healthy Jack Flaherty are virtual locks for the rotation, and newcomer Jordan Montgomery is showing he will deserve one next year as well. Adam Wainwright’s decision to return for one more season is still up in the air, and one would assume a healthy Steven Matz will take a spot. Jose Quintana is seen as a rental and likely won’t be retained after the season.

Options for the last spot if Wainwright retires comprise Hudson and several younger arms, including Andre Pallante, Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson. Pallante started 2022 in the bullpen and moved to the rotation on June 4, where he had a 4.13 ERA and .288 opponent batting average. After the trade deadline, the Cardinals moved Pallante back to the bullpen.

Liberatore has been wobbly during his time in the major leagues, alternating between delivering scoreless outings and being knocked around. His 5.33 ERA points to a need for improvement, so it seems more likely that he’ll start 2023 in the bullpen if he makes the major league roster.

Thompson is the most intriguing pitcher of the trio. The Cardinals’ first pick in the 2019 draft, Thompson hasn’t had too much exposure to the major leagues yet, but he’s been impressive in his small sample size, surrendering only 14 hits in 22 innings.

So where would that leave Hudson? He’s not a free agent until 2025, and his performance this year likely doesn’t endear him as a trade candidate. The Cardinals could use him as a long reliever and spot starter next year, which is a position Jake Woodford currently occupies. The team will likely make a few moves before next season to try to squeeze Hudson into a role, but the No. 3 Cardinals prospect in 2019 could be on the outside looking in.

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