With the 2015 Opening Day Roster taking form, the St. Louis Cardinals will feature a fewÂ new faces, particularly in the bullpen. Here’s a preview of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen.
Last season, Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny showed a propensity to rely heavily on certain guys to get through crucial moments during the season. More often than not, Matheny had a hunch for when to go to his pen and for the most part it paid off, that isÂ until the latter part of the regular season when those guys started to wear down and become less effective which lead to their ultimate demise at the hands of eventual World Series Champions the Francisco Giants during the 2014 NLCS. Gone are Pat Neshek, who signed with the Houston Astros in the offseason to help stabilize their bullpen, Sam Freeman, who the Cardinals traded over the weekend to the Texas Rangers in part to a numbers crunch and him being out of options, long time hurler and former closer Jason Motte, who signed a one year deal with the Chicago Cubs and for the moment Marco Gonzales who at least for now will begin the season in the minors.
Knowing the bullpen needed retooling, Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak went out and restocked with some experienced arms to help strengthen the club. He signed former Rockies reliever Matt Belisle, whom if your not familiar with is constantly amongst the leagues busiest relievers. In fact,Â over the last 5 seasons, Belisle has appeared in an average of 73.6 games (368 games during that span) with an ERA of 3.81.
With the struggles of Trevor Rosenthal at times last year, and loss of the aforementioned Pat Neshek in free agency, the Cardinals acquired Jordan Walden in an offseason trade with the Atlanta Braves which also yielded Right fielder Jason Heyward and sent back Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins in return. With Walden the Cardinals are getting someone who can pitch the eighth inning while also having experience as a closer. Walden has 38Â career saves, converting a career-high 32 back in 2011 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimÂ before coming a set-up man to Craig Kimbrel in Atlanta. With Walden the Cardinals get a strikeout pitcher who can throw upwards of 97 mph and if Rosenthal falters, can fill in as closer from time to time.
TheÂ St. Louis Cardinals also picked up Carlos Villanueva, a long time reliever in the NL Central pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers and most recently, the Chicago Cubs. While the St. Louis Cardinals have one of the better starting staffs in the majors, there will be times where guys need a break or need to be shut down for aÂ varietyÂ of reasons. Enter Villanueva, who was signed during the offseason to compete for a roster spot but showed that he is capable of whatever roll the ball club needs. For his career he has 76 career starts, making 5 last year and with injury concerns for both Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright, could be someone to keep a close eye on as the season progresses.
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The rest of the bullpen returns intact with the steady and reliable Seth Maness, lefty-specialist Randy Choate, Kevin Siegrist who the Cardinals hope regains his 2013 form along with more consistency out of closer Trevor Rosenthal. This group is capable of so much and could prove to be a strength if not overused. Thanks for reading!