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Will Alex Reyes Remain a Bullpen Pitcher?


With Luke Weaver in line to start Saturday’s game, and Alex Reyes in the bullpen, have the Cardinals given up on Reyes being a starting pitcher?

In case you missed it, Alex Reyes, the Cardinal’s number one prospect, was recently called up to replace a disabled Michael Wacha. Reyes spent the last two years in the minor leagues working on becoming a starting pitching; focusing on lowering pitch count, throwing more strikes, and working on an effective out pitch. However, Reyes wasn’t given Wacha’s next start, and was instead assigned to the bullpen. So far, Reyes has only pitched one inning for the big club and it was a very dominant one-two-three outing.

With this decision to put Reyes in the bullpen, the Cardinals look to one of their other top prospects, Luke Weaver, to cover Wacha’s spot in the rotation. This raises a pretty interesting question: Is Reyes’ stint in the bullpen a short one, or has management given up on the prospect of him becoming a starting pitcher?

Reyes’ call-up marked one of the most exciting call-ups the team has had in a while. Twitter blew up when there was news of Reyes touching down in St. Louis even before the actual move was announced. However, when many people learned that he would be assuming a bullpen role, they were somewhat disappointed, even though it was to be somewhat expected.

In his three years in the farm system, Reyes has struggled with eating up innings.

Not because he hadn’t been able to hold the other team to a low amount of runs, but that he struggled with pitching to contact. It is something that the team has been working with him on, but for a guy who can throw a 100+, it’s actually a pretty difficult task. For a pitcher that throws upper 90’s, and even in the 100s, they have to be able to consistently throw strikes in order to be an effective starter. Otherwise, they’ll only make into the fifth or sixth inning of games.

This has become a bigger issue as safety issues have become more prevalent. Nolan Ryan, a notable 100+ mph starter, averaged 127 pitcher per game. Now, if a pitcher throws that many pitches in even one game it causes a huge uproar. Unfortunately, the era of Ryan-esque pitchers might be over. Do the Cardinals realize this? Have they given up on Reyes becoming a starter because of this?

Recently the Cardinal’s bullpen has struggled, so it makes sense they want Reyes there now. The team is in a tight race for a wild-card slot, and they needed reliable late inning relief, so why not call up the top pitching prospect in the league to fill it? It makes perfect sense—in his first outing he was incredibly dominant. The only problem is that if he continues to be that dominant, it might be hard for the team to put him anywhere but the bullpen.

The Cardinals have a really tough decision ahead of them.

It’s going to come down to what they think is more valuable; putting Reyes in a bullpen position, where they can reap immediate benefits, or sacrificing a little more time after this season to possibly create a top starter. That’s a really rough question. I think that over the next few weeks the Cardinals will begin to like Reyes in the bullpen, especially in such a crucial part of the season, and keep him there in the future. However, I personally think that Reyes would have more value as a starter, and given another season in the minors Reyes could become a dominant starter.

Tweet us at @CardsBlog and tell us what decision you would make regarding Reyes’ pitching role!

Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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