The Cardinals are placing right-hander Jack Flaherty back on the 10-day injured list, manager Mike Shildt announced to reporters during Wednesday’s pregame session (Twitter link via Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat). The Cardinals recalled right-handed reliever Junior Fernandez from Triple-A Memphis in a corresponding move.
Flaherty, who only just returned from a two-month absence due to a severe oblique strain, has now been diagnosed with a strain in his right shoulder. Shildt indicated that imaging was “mostly negative,” suggesting that there’s no major structural issue in the shoulder.
There’s no timeline on Flaherty’s return just yet, but Shildt indicated that the club can’t firmly rule out the possibility that the talented young right-hander’s season is over. There are just under six weeks remaining on the regular-season calendar, and Flaherty will need some form of down period to allow the strain to heal before he can resume throwing and build back up.
Flaherty made just three starts between IL stints, and his velocity was down noticeably Tuesday night before departing the game. He told reporters after the contest that he began feeling “less comfortable as the game went on” and voiced frustration over having another start shortened by a physical ailment (link via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
With Flaherty now back on the shelf for a yet-to-be-determined period of time, the Cards are again operating at less than full strength in the rotation — just as they have throughout the entire summer. Kwang Hyun Kim recently returned from the injured list but was slated to work out of the bullpen. It’s at least possible that they’ll shift him back into a starting role now that Flaherty is out. Elsewhere in the rotation, the Cards have Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, J.A. Happ and Jon Lester. For now, that group will lead the charge as the Cards attempt to close a 4.5-game deficit in the NL wild-card standings. The division is effectively out of reach, as Milwaukee has a commanding 13-game advantage over St. Louis (and an 8.5-game lead over second-place Cincinnati).
Flaherty has been excellent when healthy this season, as one would expect. The 25-year-old carries a 3.08 ERA, a 26.1 percent strikeout rate, a 7.7 percent walk rate and a 38.6 percent ground-ball rate through 76 innings thus far.