The Chicago Cubs are looking to win a second straight National League Central title this season, and one of their biggest rivals for that distinction just suffered a massive loss to their pitching staff.
That team is the St. Louis Cardinals, and the pitcher that they’ve lost for the season is young phenom Alex Reyes. Reyes, who was ranked as one of the top 10 prospects in baseball by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, will undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm, and the procedure will sideline him for the entire 2017 season.
Reyes made his big league debut last season with the Cardinals, and he immediately grabbed the attention of the baseball world. He posted an impressive 1.57 ERA and a 4-1 record in five starts, and he struck out 52 batters in 46 innings of work.
With Reyes out of the mix, the Cardinals’ pitching rotation loses the depth that they had built in by having six usable starters on their roster. It will also increase the pressure on guys like Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez to stay healthy in the coming year, and they’ll also have to hope that there’s no leftover resentment on the part of Michael Wacha after a lengthy contract stalemate ended with the pitcher losing his arbitration case against the Cardinals.
Even before Reyes went down, the Cardinals were still facing a bit of an uphill battle to catch the Cubs in the Central. Finishing well off the pace last year, the Cardinals were only projected to win 76 games by Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA tool, well off the 91 wins that the Cubs are projected to rack up.