The Cardinals are looking for relief pitchers, and while some big names have moved, the Birds haven’t budged. These lesser known names should interest the Cardinals.
It’s always nice to hear the big names connected to your team. The Cardinals need relief pitching badly, and the market was flush with top-of-the-line talent. Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon are already gone, and many are talking about Andrew Miller and Wade Davis. However, the Cardinals will not give up Alex Reyes, so they won’t get either of those two. Since the Cardinals are being forced to look elsewhere, let’s do the same here. The following pitchers won’t cost much and don’t have much hype, but they can make a difference for the Cards.
Michael Tonkin (Min), 3.88/3.69/3.40 (ERA/FIP/xFIP)
To be honest, I have no idea what happened to Tonkin this year. His strikeout rate has jumped by nearly four batters per nine innings. He had strikeout rates above 10 per nine at different levels in the minors, but sat in the mid-to-low 7’s in the majors. This year, he is striking out 11.3 batters per nine. His walk rate is very good, and his xFIP suggests that he is in for some regression in the HR/FB department. I agree with that assessment, as he usually does not give up this many long balls.
His BABIP against has also increased while his hard hit rate against has decreased. It seems like there is some bad luck and some bad Twins defense driving his ERA. Like everyone else on this list, he shouldn’t cost too much to get, and he appears to be one who can make a big difference.
Jose Alvarez (LAA), 4.50/3.44/3.80
The Angels are working with a bad team and a depleted farm system, so picking up prospects for relievers makes sense. Alvarez is not a long-term piece and his ERA is up this year. Despite the fact that his ERA is more than one run higher than it was last season, his FIP is down. Alvarez won’t turn your head, but he’s better than what the Cardinals have been using.
The main difference for Alvarez this year is that his ground ball rate decreased. His BABIP against is up to .398 and that has to come down. He hasn’t been locating his breaking pitches as well this year, but he has enough offerings to work around it. His changeup is a plus pitch and he can use his sinker well to get inside on righties. If they can get his slider working well again, then his ERA will come right back down to his FIP.
Buddy Boshers (Min), 3.00/2.25/3.37
Check out Boshers’ stats and you’ll quickly notice that he didn’t pitch in the majors in 2015. He was not recovering from Tommy John surgery, or any other surgery for that matter. Instead, he was posting these numbers in an independent league: 1.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 11.8 K/9. Before the 2016 season started, Boshers signed a minor league pact with Minnesota, and came back better than ever.
Boshers owns a strikeout per walk ratio of 6.00, which is insane for a middle reliever. He has always been a good strikeout guy, but control was never his strong suit. It has been this year, as he is only walking 1.6 batters per nine innings. Batters are struggling to square up Boshers’ stuff, as his line drive rate against is only 16 percent. Although he is getting lucky in the HR/FB department, Busch Stadium is not exactly homer-friendly. Boshers should be able to keep his ERA right around 3 for the remainder of the year.
Andrew Triggs (Oak) 5.83/3.99/3.52
I first got to see Triggs pitch in an 8-3 loss to the Yankees. His job was to mop up the last three innings, and he looked good for the first two. His movement was really good, especially when he got his sinker tailing away from the lefties. When he came out for the third inning, he was clearly a different pitcher. His movement wasn’t there and his pitches came out flat. After two scoreless innings, he surrendered one run in his third before ending the game.
That has been the story of many outings for Triggs so far. He comes in and shows good stuff only to be left in too long and end up with a bad line. His ERA is high because he can’t go three innings at a time. Fortunately, the Cardinals are searching for guys who can pitch one inning at a time. They don’t need a long reliever. They need someone who get three outs with some degree of frequency. Triggs has shown that he can do just that. In his 16 outings, he has only given up a run in his first inning of work five times, with only one of those outings being really bad (May 25, against Seattle).
Triggs shows an ability to come in and look fresh despite the fact that he is getting way too much time off between outings. The strikeout, walk, and ground ball numbers are all there. Now he just needs a manager who won’t leave him in for three innings all the time. The Cardinals wouldn’t have to pay much for Triggs, but he can pitch effectively and better than many of the guys they currently have.
I am pretty confident that John Mozeliak will add a relief arm before Monday’s deadline. I don’t know who it will be, but he’ll do something. The Cardinals undoubtedly have a different shortlist, I just don’t know what it is. The Cardinals will not be attracting big names, but some cheap reliever will end up wearing red. Now, we’ll just have to wait and see who it end up being.
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports