September roster expansion candidates for the Cardinals
May 3, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcherSam Tuivailala
(64) throws to a Pittsburgh Pirates batter during the twelfth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 3-2 in 14 innings Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Enter, the candidate that I think could have both the biggest impact on the team and best chance of making the playoff roster. We saw Sam come up last year with a lightning fast fastball that was a little flat and he got hit pretty hard.
However, this year has been a different story. He has been up two different times this season. His first time up he was a little bit of the same as last year allowing 2 ER and 1 HR in 3 IP. Then he came up again on July 11 and he was a completely different guy. His fastball had movement, he was mixing his pitches, and hitters simply didn’t have a chance against him. In seven appearances and 10 IP he didn’t allow a single run and struck out nine batters.
Sam was then optioned out on July 29 to make room for Jaime Garcia and likely to make room for incoming trade acquisitions. However, this seemed a little weird to me given his success and the need for a late inning reliever at the time. Manager Mike Matheny was quoted as saying that Sam needed to work on his cutter’s velocity. This sounded all too familiar to when Mike stated that the late Oscar Taveras needed to “work on his swing”, when he was sent down last season.
Regardless, Sam will be up soon and he will provide a huge spark to this bullpen. I truly believe that if he does as well as he did when he was up in July, that he will have a solid chance to make the playoff roster.