Posted on May 6, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

St. Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina

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On Saturday, the St. Louis Cardinals saw three players leave their win over the Cubs due to injury. Now at least one of those players is going to the DL. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced Sunday morning that catcher Yadier Molina is expected to miss at least a month of action after undergoing surgery Saturday night. Catching prospect Carson Kelly is being called up to take Molina’s spot on the roster.

In the 9th inning of Saturday’s game, a foul ball off the bat of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant struck Molina in the groin. He appeared to be in significant pain before walking off the field several minutes later. According to reports, Molina suffered a traumatic hematoma that required emergency surgery.

“That was a bad one,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Molina’s injury. “He just couldn’t go anywhere. There was nowhere to go. He was trying to get the ability to breathe back.”

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Molina has long been an indispensable part of the Cardinals. That has not changed this season, as Molina has started 29 of the team’s 31 games behind the plate. In addition to his continued defensive prowess, Molina has continued to be a productive offensive player, even at age 35. Thus far, Molina is hitting .272 with six home runs, helping him post an OPS of .748.

With Molina expected to miss a month, the Cardinals will rely on Kelly and journeyman catcher Francisco Pena behind the plate. Pena is solid defensively but is just a .239 career hitter in less than 100 big league at-bats. Kelly, on the other hand, is one of the top catching prospects in baseball. He’s highly regarded for his strong arm and great defensive skills behind the plate. However, he’s still a work in progress offensively. He’s seen limited action in the big leagues each of the last two seasons, hitting just .171. Thus far in triple-A, he’s hitting .234 with an OPS of .701.

Heading into Sunday, the Cardinals sit atop the NL Central standings. However, there are three other teams within 2.5 games of them. In such a competitive division, the loss of Molina for a month could loom large for the Cardinals. Aside from his defense, handling of the pitching staff, and experience, he’s been one of the team’s most consistent offensive players. Losing him for at least a month could end up playing a significant role in the NL Central race this season.

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