The Cardinals hope their three new team members can turn around the bullpen for the upcoming 2018 season
Looking back at the disappointing 2017 season, one of the most inconsistent parts of the Cardinals team was the bullpen. The closer position was never fully secured, and the bullpen, in general, blew many important games for the Cardinals. As Spring Training approaches, the bullpen looks to be just about set, and there are still questions marks on how they will perform this season.
Most of the Cardinals’ bullpen looks the same as last year, but there are three new faces to the unpredictable bullpen staff for the 2018 season.
Earlier this offseason the Cardinals signed Luke Gregerson to be the new closer. Gregerson is a familiar name to most fans because he is a solid relief veteran who has been in the Major Leagues for nine seasons, was drafted by the Cardinals, and had played in the Cardinals minor league system.
He has posted a solid 3.02 Earned Run Average over the course of his career but posted a dismal 4.57 ERA with the World Champion Houston Astros, in what was (hopefully) just an outlier year. Gregerson does not have that much experience in the closer position, but as a veteran reliever, it could be easy for him to adjust and take on the responsibility.
The second new member of the 2018 Cardinals bullpen is Dominic Leone, who was acquired by the Cardinals in the trade that sent Randal Grichuk to the Blue Jays. Leone is a solid addition who only has a couple of solid years under his belt.
Overall, Leone has a had a bumpy career as he started his career well, and then it took him a couple of years to get back to being effective. Last year, however, was a solid year for him when he went 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in 70.1 innings.
The Cardinals need someone like Leone to step up and put up consistent numbers. They need someone in their bullpen this season to maintain a solid ERA in the twos to hold their leads.
The third addition to the bullpen is the Cardinals number one prospect, Alex Reyes. After being a highly touted starting pitcher prospect for so many years, moving Reyes to the bullpen is important in order to keep him healthy to begin the season at least.
In limited time as a starter and reliever in 2016 Reyes posted a 4-1 record with a solid 1.57 ERA. The problem with Reyes is that he is not fully healthy and will probably start the season off on the Disabled List or rehabbing in the minor leagues. When he is able to come back to the team, his electrifying pitching can really help the Cardinals bullpen.
Another possible bullpen arm is newly signed Edward Mujica. He was signed to a minor league contract, so there is no guarantee that he will even contribute. Additionally, Mujica is known because he was on the 2013 World Series team. He was very efficient then but has not had a consistent role in the MLB since 2015. He has been up and down in the minor leagues ever since then.
Even though it seems as though the bullpen is set, there are still many options left on the very not busy free agent market. Some notable free agent bullpen pieces including veteran Tyler Clippard and closer Greg Holland.
Even if the Cardinals do not sign anyone else this offseason, this does not mean that the current bullpen will stay the same. The Cardinals have traded for many important bullpen arms at the trade deadline to help them achieve deep playoff runs.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, MLB.com, and Cardinals.com
Photo Captured By: Shanna Lockwood – USA Today Sports