The St. Louis Cardinals made a lone move that occurred yesterday when minor league outfielder Charlie Tilson was traded to the Chicago White Sox for relief pitcher Zach Duke, a former Pittsburgh Pirate starter. Was that enough?
When looking at the acquisition of Zach Duke, in my mind, the St. Louis Cardinals made out like bandits as they filled one of their biggest needs by grabbing an excellent reliever while not giving up the farm. They are in the middle of a tight race for the two wildcard spots and still within distance (7.5 games) of their biggest rival, Chicago Cubs, for the division lead.
Duke moved to the bullpen four years ago and after some early struggles had proved to be a nice weapon to have when in need of relief. Through 53 appearances (37.2 IP) in 2016, he sports a 2.63 ERA, 42 strikeouts, 2 home runs allowed, 1.25 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9. The previous two seasons he kept his ERA under 3.50 while being a member of the White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.
I believe Duke will step into the seventh inning role that can set-up the combination of Siegrist in the eighth and Oh in the ninth inning well. With the offensive output that the St. Louis Cardinals have shown this season, that 1-2-3 punch is very formidable as the Cardinals look to make a run down the last two month stretch of the regular season.
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Looking at the wildcard race, it is a tight one to say the least. Currently the Cardinals are three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first wildcard spot and one game behind the Miami Marlins for the second spot.
Ideally, St. Louis Cardinals fans would love to see the team push for the first spot, however home field advantage may not be the best situation this year with as well as the team has performed away from Busch. Other teams involved in the race for the final two playoff spots include the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Colorado Rockies.
A few of these teams have been super active in trade activity as the deadline passed. The Dodgers acquired Josh Reddick and Rich Hill from the Oakland Athletics giving up three minor league pitchers, which improves their rotation depth if Clayton Kershaw‘s injury continues to linger. Hill is 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA so far in 2016. Reddick makes the outfield that much better as he is a near .300 hitter with competent power.
The Miami Marlins acquired starting pitcher Andrew Cashner from the San Diego Padres and activated former all-star Dee Gordon from suspension. Cashner took a shot at “The Cardinal Way” after Giancarlo Stanton was plunked by a pitch so the race between these two teams will be intriguing down the stretch.
The New York Mets were active once again as the deadline neared by trading with the NL Central’s Cincinnati Reds to acquire Jay Bruce for a package that included multiple prospects. With the great starting pitching that the Mets have, adding another bat to the lineup is a nice move, however I believe they need a little more than Jay Bruce.
The Pittsburgh Pirates look to be throwing in the white flag as they traded former all-star shutdown closer Mark Melancon to the Nationals for two lefty pitching prospects and also sent starting pitcher Jon Niese back to the New York Mets, in which they acquired before the season started in the Neil Walker deal. Pirates, in my opinion, are nothing for the Cardinals to worry about.
The Colorado Rockies did nothing so they should continue to regress in the standings as they are currently one game under .500.
A team of importance but not in the wildcard race, as they lead the National League West division is the San Francisco Giants. If the Dodgers were to pass them, the Giants are not a team the St. Louis Cardinals do not want to meet in a one game wildcard playoff.
They were super active as the deadline neared as they ended up adding starting pitcher Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Will Smith. It is an even year so there is plenty of reason to worry about the Giants in October.
Looking at the other team’s deadline moves, I think the Cardinals came out as winners despite only acquiring Duke. With Brandon Moss, Matt Carpenter, and Jhonny Peralta returning from the disabled list, acquiring a bat was not necessary especially when you consider how powerful their offense has been this season.
Many believed another bullpen pitcher or starter was needed for this team to make their final push towards October, however I disagree. With top pitching prospects like Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver tearing up the minor league ranks, if they become desperate for another pitcher, promoting from within the organization is a much better option than trading away more prospects, weakening the farm system.
There is plenty of reason to be optimistic. If you are a St. Louis Cardinals fan, it looks to be another exciting August and September so strap in and enjoy the ride as this team is finding the right groove.