The St. Louis Cardinals continue to climb the NL Central standings as the middle part of the 2024 MLB season approaches. The club has won six of their last 10 games in late June. However, the Cardinals received a concerning injury rehab update on valued pitcher Steven Matz before Saturday's San Francisco Giants matchup.

Matz has been dealing with a nagging back injury that he initially suffered during St. Louis's April 30th game against the Detroit Tigers. He was working his way back to the lineup before experiencing more soreness in late June. Unfortunately, his woes will continue for an extended period.

Matz hit a significant setback in his rehab and will be shut down for two more weeks, per The Athletic's Katie Woo. The veteran Cardinals pitcher will essentially restart his throwing program again. Woo believes St. Louis could explore the trade market to increase their pitching depth, given Matz's slow recovery.

Hopefully, the Cardinals' medical staff can get Steven Matz healthy again soon. The 33-year-old has not had the start he hoped for but is still a valuable presence. Through six games, Matz holds a 1-2 record and has thrown 17 strikeouts. In addition, he possesses a 6.18 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.

Thankfully, the Cardinals have other pitchers holding things down in Matz's absence. For starters, Sonny Gray has been highly productive early in the 2024 season. He holds an 8-4 record in 13 appearances, tied for sixth in the league. Moreover, his 2.95 ERA, 95 strikeouts, and 1.02 WHIP are top-20 MLB rankings.

Gray is supported by relief pitchers Ryan Hesley and Andrew Kittredge. Hesley leads St. Louis in saves (25), while Kittredge leads the team in holds (20). They and the Cardinals look to continue their momentum in their upcoming Giants matchup.

Cardinals look to stay strong amid Steven Matz injury setback 

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) walks off the field after he was removed from the game by manager Oliver Marmol (37)
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis is coming off a strong series against the Miami Marlins. The Cardinals won two of their three road matchups. They achieved the same result in their previous three-game stretch against the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals are quietly gaining ground on the first-place NL Central spot, possessed by the Milwaukee Brewers.

If St. Louis keeps their foot on the gas, they will have a chance to earn a spot in the 2024 postseason. Of course, it will not be easy, especially with the defensive talent opposing teams have. Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado dropped a truth bomb on the state of MLB pitching in 2024.

“I'm just amazed now,” Arenado said, via The Athletic. “By how guys that you've faced in the past, who would challenge you a certain way, don't do that anymore. You face them now and all of a sudden they have more (velocity) in there. Or they have different types of pitches now. Pitching right now is just out of control.”

“These guys are unbelievable now,” Arenado added. “It just seems like guys have more in their repertoire now than ever before. I remember there used to be starters out there who'd say, like, ‘OK, he's a heavy sinkerballer.'”

It makes sense that Major League pitchers have expanded their game, as performance and strategy continue to evolve. Nevertheless, the Cardinals want to make sure their own play remains stout as they continue to push for a spot in the playoffs.