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Ryan Helsley dealt with notable issue during 9th inning meltdown

Ryan Helsley during a game

Sep 16, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Ryan Helsley (56) reacts after closing out the ninth inning as the Cardinals defeat the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals suffered a stunning collapse during the ninth inning of Friday’s NL Wild Card Series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, and reliever Ryan Helsley was largely to blame. After getting the final two outs in the eighth, Helsley gave up a hit, two walks, and hit a batter in the ninth, setting up a six-run frame for Philadelphia.

After the game, the Cardinals revealed that Helsley dealt with numbness in his middle finger during that inning. Helsley’s availability for the remainder of the series is unclear.

This is not the first issue Helsley has had with that finger.

In Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh, he jammed the finger while steadying himself after catching a soft line drive. He was removed as a precaution at that point. Prior to Friday, the Cardinals did not publicly indicate any further concerns with the finger.

Finger numbness certainly explains why Helsley could not find the plate in the ninth. A trainer did look at his hand just before he left the game as well. One has to wonder why the Cardinals did not at least check on him earlier, as he had already loaded the bases and allowed a run by that point.

Helsley was replaced by Andre Pallante, who was unable to stop the bleeding in an ugly loss. The defeat may cost the Cardinals the services of one of their top relievers. It also raises questions about why the team was not more proactive in checking on Helsley’s status during the inning in light of the injury scare he experienced earlier in the week.

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