St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado exited his team's win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday afternoon after being hit by a pitch on his right hand, via John Denton of

To add insult to injury for Arenado, he swung on the pitch, which resulted in a strikeout. He went 0-for-4 on the day.

The good news is that X-rays came back negative. Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said that Arenado should be “fine,” as the ball hit him on the back of the hand rather than on the fingers. It's being classified as a bone bruise, per Denton.

This is just the latest blow in what has been a frustrating season for Arenado overall, as he is slashing just .260/.315/.380 with six home runs and 31 RBIs.

The Cardinals at least improved to 33-34 with the win and are still firmly in the National League playoff picture. While they are 6.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central, they are currently tied with the San Diego Padres for the final Wild Card spot. They are just 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the top Wild Card.

Of course, the fact that St. Louis is in legitimate playoff contention says more about the state of the National League than it does about the Cardinals. Nevertheless, the Redbirds are right in the thick of it, so potentially losing Arenado for an extended period of time wouldn't be the greatest news, even considering his struggles.

Nolan Arenado has not lived up to expectations for the Cardinals

Houston Astros starting pitcher Ronel Blanco (56) looks up and St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals acquired Arenado in a trade with the Colorado Rockies back in February 2021.

It was viewed by many as a coup for St. Louis at the time, given that Arenado was under contract through 2027 and was considered one of the best third basemen in baseball. However, there were some who raised caution about Arenado's home-road splits in Colorado.

Still, because Arenado was so talented, it seemed like a move the Cardinals had to make. After all, he had posted OPSes of well over .900 for four-straight seasons between 2016 and 2019 before recording a .738 OPS in his final season with the Rockies, which was the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

While it seemed clear that the move from Coors Field did negatively affect Arenado, he still had two very good seasons in St. Louis to begin his Cards tenure, slashing .255/.312/.494 in Year 1 and then registering an .891 OPS in 2022.

However, last season, Arenado began to show significant signs of decline, slashing .266/.315/.459 while falling off a cliff defensively (minus-1.8 UZR/150). His freefall has continued in 2024, as his .695 OPS is apparently bleeding into his fielding.

Once one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, Arenado lays claim to a minus-4.4 UZR/150 and minus-5 DRS through his first 65 games of the campaign.

Arenado turned 33 years old in April, so it's entirely possible that he is wearing down. Obviously, leaving the thin air of Denver played a role in his offensive dip, but that does not explain his drastic decline defensively. Clearly, Arenado is aging, and the Cardinals are still stuck with him for three more years after this season.

At the very least, Arenado's salary gradually decreases at the back end of his deal to the point where he will only make $15 million in 2027. Still, St. Louis may just have to live with Arenado in the lineup for the foreseeable future.