St. Louis Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley struggled in Friday's Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, but the situation might be worse than initially expected.
The Athletic's Katie Woo reported that Helsley experienced numbness in his middle finger during the ninth inning, during which he surrendered four runs that allowed the Phillies to take a 6-3 win at Busch Stadium. He's out for further testing, and his status for the remainder of the NL Wild Card series is uncertain.
Helsley had jammed his finger in Tuesday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He downplayed the injury at the time, saying: "I don't think there was anything super wrong with it. Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself."
The Cardinals were 74-3 this season when leading after eight innings. St. Louis took a 2-0 lead with two outs in the seventh on Juan Yepez's two-run homer, the first go-ahead pinch-hit home run in franchise postseason history.
Things fell apart when Helsley tried to put the game away in the ninth. After striking out Rhys Hoskins, he gave up a single to J.T. Realmuto before issuing back-to-back walks to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos. With the bases loaded, Helsley plunked Alec Bohm to score a run.
The St. Louis training staff came out to check on the All-Star closer. Helsley tried to throw some warm-up pitches, but he was eventually pulled for Andre Pallante, who then surrendered a two-run single to Jean Segura that put the Phillies ahead for good. Philadelphia tacked on three more runs before the inning was over.
If the Cardinals were to lose Helsley for any amount of time, it would be a major blow to their hopes for a deep playoff run. The 28-year-old is the team's most reliable reliever, recording a 1.25 ERA, 94 strikeouts and 19 saves in 54 appearances out of the bullpen this season.
St. Louis is surely hoping for good news, but it appears there's a chance Helsley won't be available for Saturday's Game 2 at Busch Stadium.