Nolan Arenado will be making his seventh consecutive All-Star Game appearance, and second with the Cardinals, when he goes to Los Angeles a week from now.
“It means a lot,” said Arenado, chosen on the players’ ballot for the squad. “That’s always a goal going into the season: You want to make the All-Star team. To be able to go home to California is amazing — to be able to see my family.”
But Arenado, who went to El Toro High School in Lake Forest, California, said he was more excited for Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley, who saved Sunday’s 4-3 win over Philadelphia just before he learned he was an All-Star, also chosen by the players.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Arenado said. “I’m probably more happy for Helsley than I am for myself. He’s unbelievable for us this year.
“He battled injuries last year and then to come back this year to have such a strong showing has been unbelievable.”
Helsley, who has an 0.73 earned-run average, underwent knee and elbow surgeries after last season, which ended for him in August.
“He’s one of the better closers in the game,” Arenado said. “He’s right up there with the (Josh) Haders of the world. He’s a stud.”
Helsley, who wasn’t necessarily the Cardinals’ closer at the start of the season and still sees some eighth-inning time now, depending on the lineup, said of his first All-Star selection, “Just, glory to God, man. I can’t be more thankful. Just thankful I’m healthy this year and able to pitch. Just super excited and can’t wait.”
Helsley said he barely can wait to get into the National League All-Star clubhouse on the day before the July 19 game.
“It’s going to be pretty surreal, you know?” he said. “ All the names in there and the guys I get to play alongside and get to meet, it’ll be a really cool experience.”
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said, “You want to be rewarded with the league acknowledging you’re one of the best it and that’s what (Helsley) has been — one of the best relievers and closers in the game. He comes in, and people don’t score.”
Those two will join previously announced Cardinals All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Albert Pujols.
Infielder Tommy Edman, who delivered the game-winning RBI on Sunday and set up the tying run in the seventh, was thought in many circles to be an All-Star candidate. But he tailed off in the past month or so.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said, however, he would be “shocked” if Edman is not named to the team somehow. Miami second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr., voted by the fans as the starting second baseman, is hurt, although Edman was listed on the ballot as a shortstop.
Edman said, “I thought early on there was somewhat of a chance but I didn’t do very well the past few weeks, so after that, I was trying not to think about it too much. But I’m super excited for all our guys who made it.”
It is possible that Edman was penalized in the voting, especially in the fan voting, because he was on the ballot as a shortstop instead of second base, where he started the season.
Shortstop is loaded with Los Angeles’ Trea Turner, Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson and New York’s Francisco Lindor. But Chisholm Jr. and Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies, the top two in the fan balloting at second base, are injured, and New York’s Jeff McNeil, second on the players’ ballot, could be the starter.
Marmol said that when the Cardinals decided to list Edman as a shortstop rather than a second baseman on the ballot, “That was the conversation when we made the move. Does it hurt him? And, the reality, it could (have). I’m not sure.”
Even so, Marmol said that he expected Edman, who led the league’s players in WAR not long ago, would make the club anyway.
Three innings after he thanked the Dodger Stadium crowd for helping him "bring back the joy" he had has a boy for the game baseball, Albert Pujols brought the game to the brink of one of the rarest celebrations.
Pujols singles, doubles, (surpassing Rogers Hornsby on the all-time Cardinals hits list), and homered in his first three at-bats.
“I thought he had a shot. It didn’t happen. His last month hasn’t been what we anticipated but prior that, he was pretty damn good.”
Before the game Sunday, Marmol had said, “Here’s the reality: ‘Eddie’ lit it up early, and right now, he’s in a funk.”
Edman was one for 24 before he doubled to put in motion a run in the seventh inning and then hitting the game-winning sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Bader doing as much as he can
Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader, recovering from plantar fasciitis, said he was doing all he can do to get back in the lineup, but he doesn’t have a timetable.
“I’m getting better,” said Bader, who is on the 10-day injured list. “Sometimes, part of doing everything you can is actually doing nothing at all. I’m going as fast as I can. Trust me. I want to be back as soon as possible.”
He said to be out, is “very frustrating. Any time you don’t feel like yourself on the field, it weighs on you. But it is much better. We’re on our way.”
And when will he get there?
“As soon as I can play to where I don’t have to deal with this down the road and miss more time,” Bader, said, smiling.
Bader was planning on jogging Sunday or Monday.
“You can’t just start out sprinting,” he said.
Goldschmidt, Arenado don’t start in field
Neither first baseman Goldschmidt nor Gold Glove third baseman Arenado was in the field at the start of the game, although Goldschmidt finished the game at first base. Arenado served as the designated hitter.
The other time neither had been in the field at the start of the game was on May 22 in Pittsburgh, when Arenado was the DH and Goldschmidt didn’t play. The Cardinals won 18-4 then.
Donovan still away; McFarland is ready
Brendan Donovan again was away from the park Sunday because of illness.
“As of right now, I’ve been told it’s different symptoms than COVID,” Marmol said.
Left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland had a second scoreless outing — one inning each — on back-to-back nights for Memphis and Marmol said the club likely would bring back McFarland in the next couple of days. He has been on the COVID injury list.