The St. Louis Cardinals figure to see a three-man race for the second left-handed relief role behind Kevin Siegrist in the St. Louis Bullpen.
I know, Cardinal fans. You are all as distraught as I am that the St. Louis Cardinals have moved on from Randy Choate in the left-handed specialist role. How will the Cardinals ever replace the 82 mile-an-hour chucking southpaw who baffled opposing left-handers with his funky side-armed sling of a delivery? How will the bullpen piece itself back together?
All sarcasm aside, no, the left-handed specialist isn’t the most glamorous job in sports. It is easy to make fun of the guy that get’s paid to throw to one batter a night. Still, the fact of the matter is that the lefty specialist does face high leverage situations, and he can be the difference between wins and losses.
The Cardinals have actually had a pretty good string of southpaw slingers roll through St. Louis, all kicked off with the the man, the myth, Mr. Steve Kline. I don’t know about everyone else, but that guy is still one of my all-time favorite Cardinals. He perfectly epitomized his role, and he loved the St. Louis Cardinals and the opportunity to pitch in front of Cardinal fans.
Yes, I know Kline wasn’t a lefty specialist in the true sense of the position considering the amount of right-handed batters he faced. He was much more of the Kevin Siegrist mold in terms of his usage. But it just wouldn’t be right to publish an article about left-handed bullpen guys in St. Louis without mention of Kliner in there some where.
Any who… the point I was trying to make before going off on that tangent is that the lefty specialist role is an important one. Guys like Kline, Trever Miller, Mark Rzepcynski, and most recently Randy Choate have all had success in that role and they have contributed to winning baseball games in St. Louis.
The next Cardinal left-handed specialist figures to be a younger guy with more life on his fastball and sharpness to his secondary pitches. That is not a shot at any of the guys that came before, just the reality of the situation. I see three guys that could slide into that role, and I will present their cases for the job throughout this article.
Next: The long man