Hudson stellar in latest rotation bid

Cardinals' No. 4 prospect has a 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 spring innings

March 18th, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Manager Mike Shildt wasn’t yet ready on Monday afternoon to make any sort of declaration about the team’s open rotation spot. The competition, Shildt said, remains four pitchers deep.

However, in what may have been his final opportunity to audition for the job, right-hander  sent the Cardinals into their final spring off day with plenty to consider about his readiness for the role.

Hudson delivered five scoreless innings while striking out eight, including Philadelphia’s Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams with the bases loaded in the third inning of an eventual 4-1 win. The fact that those strikeouts came on secondary pitches, the slider and curveball, only underscored why the Cards are excited about Hudson’s potential as a starter.

“He had amazing stuff today,” Shildt said. “Dakota more than served his purpose today. He took a nice step forward.”

Used exclusively as a reliever after being called up to the Majors last July, Hudson -- the reigning Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year -- has gotten an extensive look in a more familiar role this spring. He, along with , appear to be the last two in the running for the fifth starter’s spot, with  and  on the outside.

“I feel like I've pitched well,” Hudson said. “I don't feel like I've missed out on anything. [I’ve] definitely executed my process. I felt like I've gotten better this spring."

Shildt indicated that the number of competitors for the final rotation job could be whittled down as soon as Wednesday.

Out of view

Before Hudson made his final spring pitch for a starting job, he ventured out to the back fields to watch two pitchers already secure in their rotation spots.  and  made their penultimate appearances of Spring Training outside the stadium, with each logging six innings in separate Minor League games against the Marlins.

Flaherty turned in the better results, holding the Marlins scoreless over his six innings of work. He scattered three hits, walked two and struck out nine over the 84-pitch effort.

“Getting the pitch count up and still feeling like there was something left in the tank is a real good spot to be in,” Flaherty said. “I was able to just get out there and work on throwing different pitches in different counts that maybe I wasn’t as comfortable with, and I was able to build some confidence and know that I can throw whatever I want when I want.”

Mikolas was peppered for 12 hits and five runs over six innings. He struck out five, while throwing 97 pitches. Though he struggled to establish fastball command, Mikolas was encouraged by the effectiveness of his off-speed offerings.

“A lot of things I have been working on in spring that I did really well today,” Mikolas said. “I’ll have a couple more [bullpen sessions] and that last outing to sharpen up everything for Milwaukee.”

Mikolas is in line to make a final Grapefruit League appearance on Saturday ahead of his Opening Day start against the Brewers. Flaherty will start Sunday’s Grapefruit League finale and slots in to start the team’s second game of the regular season. That would also put Flaherty in position to pitch the Cardinals’ home opener on April 4.

Of that possibility, Flaherty said: “It’d be freakin’ sweet.”

Arozarena sidelined indefinitely

An MRI confirmed that outfielder Randy Arozarena will miss at least a month after sustaining a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right hand. The injury happened on a foul tip in Saturday’s game. Arozarena remained in the game and singled to start the Cardinals’ ninth-inning rally. He was reassigned to minor league camp later in the day.

The Cardinals should have a better feel for Arozarena’s recovery timetable once he meets with a hand specialist. Arozarena, the organization's No. 16-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was expected to open the year as a starting outfielder in Triple-A Memphis.

First baseman Rangel Ravelo also had an MRI on Monday, though his showed no evidence of a fracture. Ravelo has been nursing soreness around his ribcage since diving in the field on Friday. He’s considered day to day.

Worth noting

• The Cardinals scored three of their four runs via the long ball on Monday.  blasted his team-leading fifth spring homer. , batting from the second spot in the order, hit his first as a Cardinal.

• Following Monday’s game, the Cardinals reassigned pitchers Mike Hauschild and Ryan Meisinger to Minor League camp. That leaves the team with 42 players in big league Spring Training.

• Shildt confirmed that  will start next Monday when the Cardinals play an exhibition game in Memphis.

• Former Cardinals reliever and Navy Lieutenant Mitch Harris made a visit to camp on Monday. Harris, who made 26 appearances for the Cardinals in 2015, retired from baseball and now works in the private sector.

Up next

After an off-day on Tuesday, the Cardinals will close out Grapefruit League play with six games in five days. The first will be on Wednesday, when the Cardinals host the Marlins in a 12:05 p.m. CT game at Roger Dean Stadium. Ponce de Leon will make his final start of the spring, while the Marlins are scheduled to start right-hander Pablo Lopez.