In a season where pitching has plagued the Cardinals, Alex Reyes must rebound quickly from his suspension, taking the fast-track to becoming a big league ace. 

It is no secret; the Cardinals starting pitching has let them down thus far in the 2016 season. Despite key injuries, hitting has been top notch, as the Cards rank second in the league in runs scored through 42 games. Despite such hitting, however, the Cardinals have struggled due to a disappointing start from the starting staff.

Notably, Adam Wainwright has started the year poorly, leaving the organization without a solid ace performer at the top of the rotation. Specifically, Wainwright has posted a 5.92 ERA through his first 9 starts of 2016. Past Wainwright, the Cardinals have gotten inconsistent performances out of the likes of Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, and Michael Wacha. Throw in a season ending injury to Lance Lynn, and the Cardinals have been seriously mediocre in terms of starting pitching.

With the struggles of the Cardinals starters so apparent, the return of Alex Reyes is both needed and encouraging. Reyes, the organization’s top-prospect, has missed the beginning portion of the 2016 season due to suspension. Today, though, Reyes will debut, starting for the Memphis Redbirds against the Fresno Grizzlies.

In a year that has yielded little excitement regarding pitching performance, today is an exception. Reyes has immense talent throwing three explosive pitches. Notably, Reyes boasts a live fastball, regularly hitting velocities in the mid to upper 90s. Furthermore, he is known for a diving change up, as well as a devastating 12-6 curveball. Standing at 6’3″, Reyes has plus size and projects to become bigger and stronger with age. Of all prospects currently playing in the minor leagues, one could make a convincing argument that he has the biggest up-side.

As Reyes finally returns from his suspension, he will need to prove himself both physically and mentally. A lock to crack the big leagues in the near future, Reyes will be counted on to be a weekly catalyst, pitching through adversity to consistently win games. For this reason, it is imperative that Reyes quickly demonstrate improvements upon the judgment and habits that previously earned him a 50 game suspension.

Physically, Reyes will hopefully show improvements to his polish and execution, seamlessly integrating back into live-action. After spending a substantial time in extended spring training, he should, in theory, be stronger and sharper mentally, ready to ride the fast track to big league innings. Considering the Cardinals current starting pitching quandary, a solid season debut for Reyes would send ripples of excitement through the entire organization.

Usually, clubs are patient and cautious with coveted pitching prospects, coddling them until they are absolutely ready to make the leap into the MLB. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals front office chooses to handle Reyes’ development. In dire need of dominant starters in St. Louis, it would be easy to rush Reyes into the majors. At the same time, the Cardinals must keep perspective with Reyes, realizing that his health and development are far more important than how quickly he makes an impact in the majors.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the front office balances development with short-term fixes at the big league  level. Though just another game for the Memphis Redbirds, all eyes will be glued to their progress as Alex Reyes showcases his talent for the first time this season.

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