The St. Louis Cardinals entered Monday a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. If the Cardinals are to overtake the Brewers in the near term, they’ll have to do it without right-hander Jack Flaherty (shoulder strain) and center fielder Harrison Bader (plantar fasciitis), both of whom were placed on the injured list ahead of Monday’s game against the Miami Marlins. In corresponding moves, the Cardinals promoted righty James Naile and outfielder Conner Capel from the minors.
Flaherty, 26 years old, has been limited in availability and effectiveness this season because of shoulder woes. He’s thrown a total of eight innings in three starts, all the while showing reduced velocity (his fastball average is down 1.5 mph) and command (he’s walked more batters than he’s struck out). Flaherty is the third Cardinals starter to be placed on the IL, joining free-agent addition Steven Matz and Jordan Hicks.
Bader, 28, has hit .256/.303/.370 (94 OPS+) with five home runs and 15 stolen bases on 17 tries this season. Bader had been dealing with his heel issue throughout the season. Bader joins fellow outfielders Corey Dickerson and Tyler O’Neill on the shelf. Catcher Yadier Molina is also out as he deals with knee inflammation.
Under Major League Baseball’s guidelines, he’ll be eligible to return after a 10-day stint on the IL; Flaherty, as a pitcher, must miss at least 15 days.
Matthew Liberatore or Zack Thompson (as part of a bullpen game) would seem to be the most obvious candidates to take Flaherty’s spot in the rotation. In the outfield, the Cardinals figure to slot Dylan Carlson into center, with Brendan Donovan playing left and either Capel or Lars Nootbaar in right. St. Louis could also give Juan Yepez some burn in an outfield corner, depending on the day’s matchup.
Both Naile and Capel will be making their big-league debuts when they appear in a game. Naile, 29 years old, joined the Cardinals over the offseason as a minor-league free agent. In 27 appearances at Triple-A, he’s amassed a 3.28 ERA and a 3.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Capel, meanwhile, was acquired at the 2018 trade deadline in the deal that sent Oscar Mercado to the Cleveland Guardians. He’s hit .271/.361/.466 this season as a 25-year-old in Triple-A.