Hours before first pitch today, the Cardinals announced that relief pitcher Jordan Walden has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 lat strain and will likely be on the DL for a couple of months.
Walden had already been on the 15-Day DL to start the season; however, the Cardinals officially moved him to the 60-day DL today. Best case scenario, Walden comes back around the All-Star Break fully healthy and ready to go. Worst case scenario, he sits out for the entire year.
Walden has had an unfortunate history with injuries and he just can’t catch a break as a Cardinal. Two years ago, Walden was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves and had signed a 2-year extension with the Cardinals. However, last season, he was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain on May 6th and sat out for the rest of the season as his recovery never really went as expected.
The Cardinals had high expectations for Walden entering 2016. In Spring Training, Walden proved himself to be one of the better relief pitchers on this ball club. He pitched 8 scoreless innings with 8 strikeouts. Most importantly, Walden had repeatedly told the training staff that he felt no pain and was completely healthy until near the end of Spring Training.
— STL Cardinals Fans (@SLCardinalsChat) March 31, 2016
Luckily, General Manger John Mozeliak had a plan in place, in case of a long-term injury like Walden’s. In an FSMidwest interview in the middle of the game today, Mozeliak told the reporter that he went into the offseason expecting Walden not to be ready for this season. In accordance, he acquired Seung-hwan Oh from Korea to bolster the backend of his bullpen. Now, the team will likely use Oh as the setup man for Trevor Rosenthal.
Where does the team now stand with Walden? Well, unfortunately, I think the Cardinals shouldn’t have much expectation for Walden in their long-term plans especially after two potential season ending injuries on his throwing shoulder. However, they shouldn’t give up hope and should pray for the best case scenario, which is that he can eventually become 100% healthy and come back as productive as the player two years ago the Cardinals signed to an extension.
For now, players like Oh, Seth Maness, and Kevin Siegrist will have to step up in the back end of this bullpen. Walden had the talent to be a very vital piece of this bullpen. When a player like that gets injured, everybody around him will have to step up to make up for Walden’s productivity. Even though it is an unfortunate loss, there is no reason to panic, the Cardinals will be just fine.