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Dakota Hudson to have Tommy John surgery

@anne__rogers
September 27, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- Dakota Hudson will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Monday, the Cardinals announced before Sunday’s game. The surgery will come 11 days after Hudson left his start against the Pirates on Sept. 17 with some discomfort in his right forearm, which later turned into

ST. LOUIS -- Dakota Hudson will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Monday, the Cardinals announced before Sunday’s game.

The surgery will come 11 days after Hudson left his start against the Pirates on Sept. 17 with some discomfort in his right forearm, which later turned into a forearm strain that ended his season. The Cardinals were “alarmed,” manager Mike Shildt said, when they an MRI revealed that Hudson’s ligament was damaged because he hadn’t felt the symptoms that typically lead to surgery.

But when Hudson, 26, met with Dr. George Paletta, the team’s head physician, and then remotely with Dr. James Andrews, everyone concluded that the elbow surgery was needed. Paletta will perform the surgery in St. Louis on Monday.

“There was nothing that spoke to anything of any severity -- he hadn’t been dealing with anything, his recovery had been healthy, and we did the best we could to take care of him through all the breaks,” Shildt said, referencing the Cardinals’ 17-day layoff in August. “We were pretty guarded, relative. And then when he felt something, he spoke about it immediately, and we were proactive. We were disappointed he was dealing with something, and then we got the imaging, and it was like, ‘Whoa.’ The severity of it was pretty significant.

“He’ll work as hard as he does on the field off the field, and he’ll be back. I’m confident he’ll go through the rehab process with our medical team and come out on the better side of it, but it’s a loss for him and us.”

The typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery is around 12 months, which puts Hudson’s 2021 season in jeopardy. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak wouldn’t rule out Hudson returning next year.

“Some people come back in nine [months], some people come back in 15,” Mozeliak said. “But we’ll wait, and we'll see the outcome of the surgery and see how he responds to his rehab. That’s going to dictate it.”

Hudson was the Cardinals’ wins leader in 2019 and was having a successful 2020, with a 2.77 ERA in eight games and 39 innings. His rotation spot will be a loss, but the Cardinals are optimistic they’ll be able to fill it with their depth that’s shown this year, like Daniel Ponce de Leon and Austin Gomber. Veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright will be a free agent this offseason, and it’s unknown if he will be back for another year.

The Cardinals expect Miles Mikolas, who had surgery to repair his right flexor tendon earlier this season, to be “full go” for 2021, Mozeliak said. Matthew Liberatore, the Cardinals’ No. 3 prospect acquired in a trade with the Rays last winter, had a strong summer at the alternate training site, Mozeliak said, and the lefty positioned himself as a possible contender for a rotation or bullpen spot entering Spring Training. Lefty Zack Thompson -- the Cardinals’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2019 and No. 5 prospect -- is also on the horizon.

“When you’re looking at where’s our depth, we’ve all been in this game long enough to know you never have enough,” Mozeliak said. “That’s probably the simplest answer. But I do feel that there have been some positive things that have happened this year. We also don’t know what’s going to happen in the trade market, the free-agent market, so there’s a lot of TBD there. … But certainly, losing someone like Hudson is disappointing, and especially to the question of when he might return being an unknown, especially when you’re looking at 2021.”

Dean activated for Sunday’s finale
The Cardinals activated outfielder Austin Dean from the 10-day injured list before Sunday’s game against the Brewers and optioned right-hander Nabil Crismatt. Dean gives St. Louis an extra hitter off the bench, as the Cardinals plan to throw everything they can at the Brewers. A win gives St. Louis a postseason berth and avoids a trip to Detroit on Monday to make up one or possibly two games against the Tigers.

The National League playoff bracket has come down to the final day of the season. The Brewers can clinch a postseason spot with a win Sunday, too. If the Cardinals lose, they will hope the Giants lose to the Padres, because St. Louis owns the tiebreaker over San Francisco. If the Giants win, the Cardinals will head to Detroit on Monday.

“My first reaction is, it’s exciting,” Mozeliak said. “I wish we were in. It would take some of my stress and anxiety out of this. I think we all have the butterflies today, and that’s kind of why you do these jobs. It makes it fun. Going through all the different iterations last night, it was certainly head-scratching. We have boiled it down to understanding what needs to happen. The simplest way to think about it is, we should win. And that would answer a lot of questions.”

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.