Dakota Hudson will continue his comeback from Tommy John surgery when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Hudson (1-0, 4.91 ERA) will draw the start in the opener of the three-game series against the injury- and illness-depleted Cubs. He will be making his second appearance for the Cardinals since completing his rehabilitation from the September 2020 operation.
“He’s just back in the big leagues. Let’s be reasonable about it, what it is,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “You want to be smart about it. He’s back on the mound, getting another opportunity. He’s going to get about 70 or 75 pitches, around that area, depending on how hard he’s working, and we’ll go from there.”
Hudson went 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA in 2019 and 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts last season before sustaining the elbow injury.
His first game back came against the Cubs on Sept. 24. He earned the victory while working 3 2/3 innings in relief, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks with two strikeouts.
“It was just great being able to get back out there,” Hudson said. “I was able to prepare well and (catcher Yadier Molina) was running the show for me. Just trusting the defense, being me and seeing what I can do, it was a blast to get back.”
St. Louis, which has won 18 of its past 19 games, will visit the National League West runner-up in the wild-card game on Wednesday.
The Cardinals (89-70) are still determining what role, if any, Hudson and fellow right-hander Jack Flaherty will have in postseason play. Flaherty is working his way back from shoulder soreness.
“Let’s temper about Jack and some degree Dak as well,” Shildt said. “I know the names dictate, ‘Hey, we want them to be this and this.’ Let’s make sure they’re healthy and getting work off the mound. That’s the priority, the responsibility to those two.”
The Cubs (69-90) have used the final weeks of the season to assess players who could be part of their ongoing rebuild. They come into the series after 3-2 and 9-0 victories over the Pittsburgh Pirates the past two days.
Prior to that, the Cubs had lost 14 of 16 games.
The Cubs will close out the season without several players who played down the stretch. Shortstop Nico Hoerner (general soreness), infielder/outfielder Patrick Wisdom (undisclosed), catcher Austin Romine (undisclosed), pitcher Keegan Thompson (shoulder soreness) and outfielder Jason Heyward (concussion) are all sidelined.
Second baseman David Bote left the game Thursday with right shoulder discomfort and is questionable for Friday. The Cubs remained undecided on a starting pitcher for the series opener.
The mounting injury/illness list prompted the Cubs to summon another half-dozen minor league players to help them get through the end of the season. A COVID-19 outbreak would make it difficult to play the final weekend.
“They’re here as an abundance of caution,” Chicago manager David Ross said. “You’ve got to have some backups in case something is more serious. But still running through all the testing and think we’ve got it, for now, contained.”
The Cardinals have been playing without shortstop Edmundo Sosa (bruised wrist) and Molina (shoulder soreness). Both are questionable for Friday.
–Field Level Media