In the wake of their fourth consecutive victory against a Chicago baseball team, a thrilling affair in which Kolten Wong hit a towering walk-off home run and declared he was glad he could “piss off” the Chicago Cubs fans in attendance at Busch Stadium, the tone grew more somber from the Cardinals beat, and this morning, it was announced that catcher Yadier Molina is going to the Disabled List and is expected to miss about a month with what the St. Louis Cardinals are calling a “pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma”.
It is entirely possible given what we know–that Molina was removed from yesterday’s game in the 10th inning after a foul tip off the bat of Kris Bryant, who made contact with a 102 miles per hour Jordan Hicks fastball, hit Yadier Molina in…let’s just say “a very sensitive area”. Although Molina initially tried to walk it off, he was replaced by Francisco Pena. While video of the incident was shared on social media almost immediately, with choruses of jokes and laughs being shared, the injury took on a rather serious tone late last night when several people closer to the situations, including Molina’s brother Bengie and teammate Bud Norris, solicited prayers for Yadier, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jose de Jesus Ortiz tweeted that he was trying to confirm “devastating” news for the Cardinals. As it turns out, Molina had to undergo surgery last night which sounds, to put it lightly, unpleasant.
In the meantime, catcher Carson Kelly was recalled from AAA Memphis and will likely handle the lion’s share of catching duties, as his demotion to the minors was considered more an issue of giving him regular playing time (Molina had missed one game so far this season and has been one of the most durable catchers in baseball history) than a reflection on his talent. Kelly is considered a good defensive catcher, though his offense this season has been somewhat lagging behind what he is expected to be (.234/.337/.364 in 89 plate appearances).
The exact details of Molina’s injury are unknown (and, frankly, if he doesn’t want to share them, and we know the extent of the injury from a baseball perspective, I don’t know that we need to know any more), but from a strictly on-field perspective, this is certainly a bad thing. While Molina is not an elite hitter, he has been slightly above-average this season at the plate, and he remains acclaimed for his abilities in handling Cardinals pitchers (a group which itself has been in flux a bit recently). The silver lining is that this will allow the Cardinals to see what they have in Carson Kelly, though these are certainly not the circumstances under which we would like to discover the answer. A month of Carson Kelly instead of Yadier Molina probably isn’t going to be the difference between making and missing the playoffs, but the personal health of Yadier Molina is the more important thing here, and by all accounts, he seems to be recovering from yesterday’s emergency surgery.