Cardinals activate Yadier Molina from IL as St. Louis looks to extend NL Central lead

yadier-molina-cardinals.jpgUSATSI

The St. Louis Cardinals activated catcher Yadier Molina from the list of injured before their Saturday game against the Colorado Rockies, the team said. In a corresponding step, the cardinals downgraded the setback Ali Sánchez to Triple-A Memphis. However, Sánchez will not report to Memphis and instead will stay with the big league team as a member of the traveling taxi squad.

Molina, who will celebrate his 39th birthday in July, has not appeared in a game since April 26 because of a strained tendon in his right foot. Before it was put on the shelf, it had an excellent start to the year and hit .323 / .366 / .631 in 71 trips. Molina has not been an average or better batsman for an entire season since 2018, when he last made the All-Star Game. The last season was meanwhile one of his worst offensive performances since the beginning of his career in the big league.

The Cardinals took the lead 8-3 during Molina’s absence, while they relied almost exclusively on the young Andrew Knizner behind the plate. St. Louis pitchers have outperformed Molina with Knizner this year, but it’s worth noting that: 1) the performance gap is likely the product of a small sample size; and 2) Knizner started on Saturday and scored in the .208 / .276 / .264 season. Molina, of course, has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the game’s best defensive catchers.

The Cardinals are between 19 and 14 in the season, two games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. They have won or split each of their last four series and entered the game on Saturday 5-2 in May. The Cardinals’ plus 20 barrel differential is the best in the division and fourth best in the National League overall.

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