The St. Louis Cardinals get good news about Tyler O’Neill

Tyler O’Neill left Sunday’s game with a finger injury, but the good news for the St. Louis Cardinals is that it is not considered serious.

Tyler O’Neill has been one of the best outfields for the St. Louis Cardinals since being struck off the injured list. He seeks power and again provides strong defense in the left field.

Obviously there were concerns when he left Sunday’s game against the San Diego Padres. Every time you lose a player of his caliber it is a blow. But the good news is that the injury sustained while stealing second base in the sixth inning is only counted as a sprained left middle finger and it is day to day, manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including The Athletic’s Katie Woo.

With O’Neill likely to miss a few games, they can rely on their internal options like Lane Thomas and Austin Dean to fill in the void, among other things, while O’Neill allows his sprained finger to heal.

But O’Neill will be back soon, barring one setback, keeping him on pace for a breakout season. He hits .250 / .290 / .530 with eight home runs in 107 record appearances. There are areas in his game that require work, particularly his 32.7 percent strike rate, but he has a 122 wRC +, in large part due to that strength and ability to make consistent hard contact.

O’Neill’s strong start is why the Cardinals were comfortable with their current outfielders and not been chasing a notable free agent this winter. They always knew he was doing well, but they may not have envisioned home runs at this pace. But he’s allowed to get meaningful bats and find a permanent place in the Cardinals line-up alongside Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Dylan Carlson.

Losing O’Neill for an extended period of time is a blow to the Cardinals line-up. But that he should only miss a few games and no more than that should give the whole organization a sigh of relief.

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