Iván Herrera has done alright in Contreras' absence for the Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics
St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Despite the St. Louis Cardinals' mediocre offense and subsequent record in early May, Willson Contreras was having an All-Star-caliber season. That all changed on May 7th, when J.D. Martinez's swing clipped Contreras' left forearm and fractured it. Contreras anticipates returning to the St. Louis Cardinals' lineup before the All-Star game. 

In his absence, two unproven and relatively untested catchers, Iván Herrera and Pedro Páges, took over, with Herrera taking on the lion's share of catching responsibilities. 

From bouncing between St. Louis and Memphis in his last two seasons with the Cardinals organization to being promoted to fill in for an injured Andrew Knizner in July, Herrera's journey has been one of growth and development. He honed his defense and game-calling skills with the Memphis Redbirds, and not only did he work on those, but he also became an offensive threat with the bat.

With Knizner now with the Texas Rangers, Herrera has taken over the backup catcher spot behind Contreras, earning a Major League roster spot coming out of Spring Training. His performance in 2024 has been commendable, making him one of the most improved players on the team. His humble, grounded personality aligns perfectly with the St. Louis Cardinal's values.

Despite not hitting any home runs this month, Herrera has held his own and done a good job since Contreras went onto the Injured List. Starting May 7th, Herrera has had 18 hits in his last 63 at-bats, batting .327 and accumulating a wRC+ of 126. It's worth noting his unsustainable .439 BABIP during this stretch, but that doesn't diminish his overall performance this month. 

There are two aspects of Herrera's game that need improvement. While Herrera has made good contact on pitches, he's not hitting for any power (zero homers) during this time. In addition, the improved defense he showed in Memphis has not translated to the majors, shown by a -4 DRS in 2024. 

Iván Herrera is not quite the catcher the St. Louis Cardinals want him to be as of now, but his statistics show an ability to hit at the Major League level. As the team heads into June, it will look to see if Herrera can hit for more power while simultaneously keeping up his contact on batted balls and keeping working on his defense.