The Cardinals placed left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim on the 10-day injured list yesterday due to left elbow inflammation. The placement is retroactive to August 8. Right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon was activated from his own 10-day IL stint after missing close to seven weeks with shoulder discomfort.
This is the third time Kim has visited the IL this season, following two previous absences caused by a bad back. The southpaw has been dealing with a sore elbow for over a week, which led the Cards to give him some extra time between starts. After Kim was touched up for five runs over 2 2/3 innings against the Indians on July 28, his next start was held off until August 7 — another less-than-successful outing, as Kim allowed two runs and threw 83 pitches over four innings against the Royals.
It isn’t known if Kim could return after just a 10-day break, or if his elbow issues will require more recovery time. In the short term, St. Louis can fill the rotation spot with ace Jack Flaherty, who is expected to return from the IL this week. Miles Mikolas is also getting closer to a return after spending almost the entire season on the injured list.
Despite all the injuries and only a 18.3% strikeout rate, Kim has been effective when he has been on the mound this season, posting a 3.36 ERA over 91 innings. Now with 130 innings of Major League work to his name after two seasons, Kim has a 2.84 ERA but also with a 4.85 SIERA that reflects the lack of strikeouts and only a slightly above-average walk rate. On the plus side, Kim is good at limiting hard contact and at keeping the ball on the ground (47.1% grounder rate), making him a particularly good fit on the defensively-strong Cardinals.
Another injury absence, however, won’t help Kim’s free agent stock heading into the offseason. There was some trade buzz surrounding Kim heading into the trade deadline, though St. Louis ultimately opted against selling and made some modest rotation additions in J.A. Happ and Jon Lester. Adam Wainwright , Kim, Happ, and Lester will all be free agents, while the Cardinals aren’t expected to exercise their $17MM club option on Carlos Martinez. With all this rotation uncertainty heading into 2022, one would assume the Cardinals would have interest in re-signing Kim after his solid results of the last two years.