Cardinals reportedly joining pursuit of Jon Lester

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Might the Cardinals be a darkhorse in the Jon Lester sweepstakes? Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says they are “in pursuit,” citing a club source.

St. Louis just unloaded some of its rotation depth on Monday afternoon, acquiring outfielder Jason Heyward and relief pitcher Jordan Walden from the Braves for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. That still leaves the Cardinals with six legitimate starters for 2015 between Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Carlos Martinez, and Marco Gonzales, but Wainwright needed elbow surgery in late October and Wacha battled shoulder issues for much of the 2014 season. So maybe there’s something to this.

Martinez and Gonzales could both begin 2015 in relief roles if Lester is brought in.

Lester is also drawing serious interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, and Braves. The 30-year-old southpaw had a 2.46 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 220/48 K/BB ratio in 219 2/3 innings this season between Boston and Oakland.

Braves ace Mike Soroka out for year with torn Achilles

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Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka is out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Monday night against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag, only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander knew right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won’t be back on the mound until 2021.

“It’s a freak thing that happened,” manager Brian Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. “I’m sorry it did.”

Soroka yelled in obvious pain and tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn’t put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of Snitker and a trainer.

It was a major blow to the two-time defending NL East champion Braves, who had won five straight despite struggling to put together an effective rotation.

“Somebody else is going to get an opportunity,” Snitker said. “Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We’re going to be fine.”

Soroka, who turns 23 on Tuesday, made his first opening day start last month after going 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.

Soroka was making his third start of the season. He came in having allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings but struggled against the Mets, giving up three hits and four walks. He was charged with four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career.

Unfortunately for Soroka, he won’t get a chance to make up for it this season.