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Ryan Helsley earns spot in club record books with save in Sunday’s win: Cardinals Extra

The St. Louis Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Pirates

Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley pitches in the ninth inning of a game against the Pirates on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at Busch Stadium.

Dominic Di Palermo, Post-Dispatch

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CHICAGO — No closer in Cardinals history has enjoyed a run quite like the one Ryan Helsley has strung together this season.

Helsley, who registered his MLB-leading 24th save in Sunday’s win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, has converted 24 consecutive save chances to tie the franchise record held by Alex Reyes. Reyes’ run of 24 also set an MLB record for the most consecutive saves to start a career, although it did not take place entirely in one season.

Helsley blew his first save chance of the season, against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 30, but he hasn’t missed a beat since.

“Obviously, I hope I keep going,” Helsley said in the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve been pretty active lately, pitching a lot. It hasn’t been too clean. But I’m just trying to go out there and get the job done. Take one pitch at a time. It means a lot to be in the record books with such a storied franchise.”

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Sunday, Helsley walked a pair of batters in the ninth inning but held on to close the door on a 2-1 series-clinching victory.

He alluded to not having “clean” outings. He has worked around traffic regularly in recent weeks. In his past 15 appearances (15 innings), he has allowed 12 hits and 10 walks for a WHIP of 1.47.

Despite the base runners, Helsley has continued to find ways to finish wins. Being able to work through those outings has been reaffirming for Helsley in some ways.

“It gives you that little bit of confidence,” Helsley said. “Like no matter what the situation is, I know I can get out of it. I still have a chance if the ball is in my hand.

“I’m going to look at some film of the last few days and see if I can find anything that I can get better at, see why I’m doing it or maybe it is just fatigue.”

This recent run comes the first season the Cardinals declared Helsley a one-inning closer at the end of games. In previous seasons, he’d worked in high-leverage situations before the ninth inning. He’d also been used in multiple-inning outings in the past.

“He’s been really, really good all year,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He’s taken the ball. That’s the most meaningful part. You look at last year. You look at this year. He’s made a real commitment — we have together — to say ‘You have the last three.’

“Because of that, he’s been able to answer the bell every time we’ve asked him to. He’s done a really nice job of staying ready and executing. That’s not easy, what he’s done up to this point. We’re not anywhere close to where we’re at right now without him doing right what he’s doing.”

Loutos rejoins club

The Cardinals recalled right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Loutos, a former Washington University standout, who joined the team in Chicago and was present for Sunday’s game but was not used.

The Cardinals placed starting pitcher Kyle Gibson on the bereavement list. Gibson, who started on Friday, was present in the clubhouse before the game on Sunday, though he left before the game’s start.

Gibson is still expected to make his next scheduled start, on Wednesday in Miami.

Injury, rehab updates

Left-hander Steven Matz made a minor-league rehab start for Double A Springfield (Missouri) and pitched three perfect innings and struck out five. He threw 35 pitches (24 strikes). The start marked his third rehab outing since June 6.

  • Starting catcher Willson Contreras, who suffered a fractured forearm on May 7, is slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday. It’s not clear which of the Cardinals affiliates he’ll join.
  • Outfielder Tommy Edman is set to shift his rehab from offseason wrist surgery to the club’s spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida, this week. He’ll continue his ramp up of daily activities there before he gets into minor league games.
  • Right-handed reliever Riley O’Brien had been slated to pitch for Springfield on Saturday, but his outing was pushed back in order to give him more recovery time. He’s now slated to pitch on Tuesday.

Time change for Tuesday’s game

The Miami Marlins announced on Sunday that their game against the Cardinals on Tuesday at LoanDepot Park has been changed from 5:40 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. because of the Florida Panthers hosting Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at 7 p.m. that night (all St. Louis times). A victory would give the Panthers the NHL title.

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