ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals are conducting tests on one of Ryan Helsley’s fingers on his throwing hand after a mid-inning departure in the ninth inning of a Game 1 Wild Card loss.
Helsley, an All-Star relief pitcher used primarily in closing situations down the stretch, noticed some issues with his finger in the Cardinals’ penultimate game of regular season just three days ago. He jammed his right middle finger while fielding a ground ball in his final tuneup before postseason.
The Cardinals added Helsley to the 26-man postseason roster after he completed a bullpen session Thursday without any setbacks.
“You check every box. We’ve been honest with each other all year,” said Cardinals manager Oli Marmol on using Helsley in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.
Marmol says Helsley checked out fine before coming into Friday’s Wild Card Series opener. He entered the game with a 2-0 lead and one out in the eighth inning. He covered two outs before one out in the ninth before he was pulled from the game.
St. Louis led 2-1 in the ninth, though Helsley was pulled after allowing four consecutive baserunners to reach, including two via a walk. According to Marmol, when he came out for a mound visit, Helsley noted something seemed off. After one practice pitch, he departed from the game.
“Once we went out there, he said he started to lose a little bit of a feel for his pitches,” said Marmol.
Relief pitcher Andre Pallante entered the game with Marmol seeking a double-play ground ball to end it. Phillies infielder Jean Segura sent a pitch past a diving Tommy Edman, though the ball went over his glove. The Phillies claimed a 3-2 lead, then added on three insurance runs.
Helsley was charged with the loss and four earned runs in the inning. It was quite an unusual outing for a pitcher who finished the 2022 regular season with 19 saves and only allowed nine total earned runs over 64.2 innings.
“You’re hoping he gets it back. He’s been super reliable all year,” said Marmol.
“He’s such a competitor. It could’ve been broken and he would’ve been out there throwing with everything he’s got,” said Pallante. “He’s a great pitcher and there’s nobody else we would’ve rather had in that situation.”
After the tests, the Cardinals will determine if Helsley is available or out for the remainder of the Wild Card Series, which could stretch into Sunday if St. Louis wins Game 2. If Helsley has to miss time…
“We’ve had guys step up all year. He goes down, someone else have to step up and do that job,” said Marmol. “It’s part of the game, no one is going to feel sorry for us.”
The winner of the Cardinals-Phillies Wild Card Series will advance to take on the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series next week. The Phillies now hold a 1-0 series lead and just need one more to advance.
“The next game is a new day,” said Marmol. “We know what’s at stake. We don’t want to go home. We’ll embrace that.”