Next up in the Cardinals position series is the bullpen. Although inconsistent at times, more often than not the team was able to hold leads and keep ties.
After a successful 2015 campaign in which he was probably overpitched, Kevin Siegrist’s innings were (rightfully) more limited, but he was still an effective pitcher out of the bullpen.
Siegrist relied primarily on his fastball, and was actually a bit more effective against righties than lefties, but held both to low averages. What Siegrist really struggled with was the home run. After giving up only four homers last season, that number jumped to 10 this year. Even with this jump, Siegrist was still able to have a successful season, finishing with a 2.77 ERA in 67 appearances.
One of the reasons Siegrist was still effective despite the larger home run numbers was that he became more effective the more tense the situation. With no runners on base, opposing hitters hit .205 against him, which is still incredibly impressive, but with runners in scoring position opposing hitters hit just .160. That number falls all the way to .074 with runners on base.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 30, 2016
Siegrist’s effectiveness pitching out of jams has definitely been useful, as he was frequently called upon with runners on base, and he was often able to keep them there.
A Rule 5 draft pick, Matt Bowman made his major league debut this season with the Cardinals after success in the Mets’ organization. Early in the season, Bowman impressed. At the beginning of August, Bowman had a sub-3 ERA, and Matheny began calling upon him in more tense situations.
Unfortunately, Bowman struggled in August, finishing with an ERA over seven in the month. He corrected himself, and had his best month in September, with an ERA of just 0.90.
Unlike Kevin Siegrist, Bowman was at his best with no runners on, with opposing batters hitting just .194 against him. That number jumps to over .270 with runners on. Despite this statistic, Matt Bowman was largely effective throughout the regular season. This can be explained because he was able to prevent the home run well, allowing only 4 in just under 70 innings pitched this season. Bowman provided a valuable middle relief option throughout the season, and definitely helped eat innings from Oh and Siegrist.
The Cardinals acquired Jonathan Broxton in the middle of the 2015 season after ineffectiveness with Milwaukee, and he largely turned that around in St. Louis, regaining some of the form that he had while closing games with the Dodgers. This season, however, Broxton began to show some of that ineffectiveness again.
Broxton had stretches of dominance, pitching with a sub-2 era in April, June, and September, but stretches of ineffectiveness, especially in May and August, tarnished what could have been a great season. He finished both those months with an ERA of 8 and higher. While Broxton was able to pitch a lot of innings, his struggles at times led to an overall mediocre season.
In a quiet deadline for the Cardinals, Zach Duke arrived with little fanfare, but he performed as well as anyone could have hoped. Appearing in 28 games for the Cardinals, he pitched his way to a sub-2 era without giving up a single home run. Duke’s performance down the stretch stabilized an inconsistent bullpen and kept the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. Although he spent under half the season in St. Louis, he was still able to make a significant positive impact, and looks to continue on his dominance in the 2017 season.
After the worst season of his career, Seth Maness returned in 2016 and was able to make a positive impact in an injury-shortened season. A double-play specialist, Maness has always been called on in tense situations to get the out, and this year was no different. Maness rebounded, with a 3.41 ERA that was largely due to ineffectiveness to start the season. After returning from injury in late June, Maness became dominant again until an elbow injury that required surgery ended his season. Fortunately though, Maness will likely be available by Spring Training next year, looking to build off a successful 2016.
After success last season both as a starter and long-reliever, Tyler Lyons returned in 2016, yet did not start a game. Matheny often opted for call-ups to pitch fill-in games rather than Lyons, as he was such an effective long-reliever. Unfortunately Lyons’ season was cut short due to injury, but he likely hopes to bolster his position with the team in the future, either in the rotation or the bullpen.
Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Dean Kiekhefer, Miguel Socolovich, Jerome Williams, Sam Tuivalala, Mike Mayers, and yes, Ruben Tejada all appeared out of the bullpen at points throughout the season. These pitchers were largely ineffective, however most pitched very little. These pitchers were mostly in the minor-leagues, so it is hard to get a read on how effective they were, or even if they will be relievers or starters in the future.
The Cardinals’ bullpen was not very deep, yet was effective at the top. Siegrist, Bowman, and Duke all combined as effective late-inning relievers, and Broxton and Maness both provided glimpses of success as middle-relievers. However, injuries hurt the team’s’ performance overall, just not quite enough to drop them out of the A-range.
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