Cardinals have only themselves to blame for freak Willson Contreras injury

The former Cubs All-Star and fan favorite suffered a gruesome injury at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Things haven't exactly been uneventful for longtime Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras since signing a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. Last season, there was drama surrounding his role on the team, with the team pulling him from catching duties early on. It looked like things were back on track for the three-time All-Star in 2024, but Contreras is now set to miss 6-8 weeks while he recovers from a fractured left arm.

With one away in the bottom of the second inning Tuesday night at Busch Stadium, Mets DH JD Martinez took a cut at a Miles Mikolas slider. But instead of connecting with the pitch, Martinez' swing hit the left arm of Contreras who, at the Cardinals' direction, was closer to the plate to get more strike calls on the bottom portion of the strike zone.

With the Cubs again on the rise, the Cardinals and Willson Contreras face an uncertain future

“It’s a huge risk,” Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said after the game, “and it’s been talked about. Even during the offseason, it was a topic of discussion because there was an increase in them. The more catchers are evaluated on framing, the closer they’re getting to the hitter in order to get that low pitch. So it’s definitely a topic of conversation. The risk is high. We just experienced it.”

Shifting a catcher closer to the plate isn't unique to the Cardinals. Teams across the league have adopted this approach, looking to steal more strikes. With that, injury risks soar and catcher's interference calls are skyrocketing. Of course, the worst-case scenario played out at Busch Stadium Tuesday night with an injury that was hard to watch.

The injury is a massive loss for St. Louis which, even with Contreras playing well, dropped to 15-21 with Tuesday's loss to the Mets. It's hard to see things improving with the 2016 World Series standout sidelined. The Cardinals could be headed for the unthinkable: a second-straight last-place finish in the NL Central.