The Cardinals have had bullpen trouble all season, is Alex Reyes the answer?
Before I get into this, I want to make sure that everyone knows I’m NOT giving up on Alex Reyes as a starter. Putting him in the bullpen should be temporary and he should be put into the rotation at the beginning of next season. But for now, Reyes should pitch the 8th innings for the Cardinals.
General Manger John Mozeliak and Manager Mike Matheny are in a very tough situation. They are focused on winning now but also have to think about Reyes’s future. If he remains in the bullpen, he won’t be able to enter the rotation when needed because he won’t be stretched out. He also won’t be getting experience as a starter at the big league level. The truth of the matter is, though, that the Cardinals need bullpen help and Reyes has the ability to supply it.
There’s never been a question about the Cardinals hitting. They’re ranked 1st in homeruns, 3rd in runs, and 3rd in RBI in the National League.
Their starting pitching is finally putting it together. Luke Weaver has slotted in very nicely with the injury to Michael Wacha and long reliever Tyler Lyons. Adam Wainwright has found the fountain of youth and has led this pitching staff. Over the course of the entire season, their starters have been average at best but have been keeping their team games and have been continuing to get better every start.
Coming into the season, the Cardinals bullpen was supposed to be their strength. They were flush with closers and set up men but one after another, they failed to meet expectations. Trevor Rosenthal was supposed to anchor their bullpen but has been, to put it nicely, horrible. Jonathan Broxton, Sam Tuivaliala, and Matt Bowman have all had down years. They have also been plagued by injuries with Seth Maness having Tommy John Surgery and although Jordan Walden is finally starting his rehab, he hasn’t pitched all year and who knows how he’ll do upon returning.
Seung hwan Oh has pitched very well, but there is still a big hole for the 8th inning role. Kevin Siegrist is the obvious choice but is normally used earlier in the game to bail his teammates out of a jam. Siegrist has only let 27% of the runners that he has inherited score.
With Reyes pitching the 8th inning, the Cardinals would be able to shorten games, putting less pressure on the starters to pitch more innings. Oh would pitch the 9th, Reyes in the 8th and Siegrist in the 7th. Although it would make more sense for the rookie Reyes to pitch the 7th and have Siegrist pitch the 8th, Reyes is too inexperienced to be trusted to bail his team out of a late innings jam.
Putting Reyes in the 8th inning role would be perfect for him. He would have plenty of time to warm up, like he is used to as a starter. He will always know when he is pitching and will feel comfortable in the role. The most important factor is that he will never have to work with inherited runners. Reyes is a starter by trade so he is used to being able to come into a game and not having to be perfect. If he were to be used in a situation with runners on base, he would have to make the perfect pitch to get his team out of a jam.
Alex Reyes has K'd 8 of the 20 major leaguers he's faced. He's allowed 2 hits (both singles), walked 2 and surrendered zero runs. #STLCards
— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) August 17, 2016
Reyes has proved that he was worth all the hype by pitching very well in his short stint in the majors. He has only pitched 6 innings but has struck out 8 batters while only surrendering 2 hits. He has 2 walks which is still too much, but he has been working on his command. Reyes would be a perfect set up man for Oh and would help win games by shutting the door at the end of games.