St. Louis Cardinals: Addressing the loss of Zach Duke
Solve From Within
What if the St. Louis Cardinals decided that the lefty free agent market is either too expensive or doesn’t offer a suitable solution? Does the organization have names and arms that would solve the absence of Duke without tying up additional money that could be used for another impact player (say a CF or power bat)?
Dean Kiekhefer is the first natural name that bubbles to the top of possible internal replacements. Kiekhefer was impressive in AAA Memphis this season and even made twenty-six game appearances for the Cardinals in 2016. In these appearances he recorded a 5.32 ERA. He is thought of as the incumbent LOOGY but could he be “converted” to a setup man?
Marco Gonzales was once thought of as a starter and that might well be his role moving forward. His playing time was nonexistent in 2016 thanks to injury and surgery so he is looking to return in 2017.
Marco has impressive stuff and it might be an interesting experiment to see him work from the pen. Pen work might be a good ease-back from injury and could allow him to return to a rotation in future years or add value for him in a trade.
Another interesting experiment name would be Tim Cooney. Cooney’s 2016 was also nonexistent thanks to injury. While Marco has better stuff which might keep him in consideration for a rotation spot, perhaps the pen and a setup spot would be an easier fit for Cooney. Again, like Marco above, perhaps limiting his innings in 2017 would help him ease back from his injury but also allow him to add value.
Trevor Rosenthal should have a very interesting 2017. I mention him here as it has been no secret that the St. Louis Cardinals had hoped to work him into a rotation spot but, now that Duke is out, should the Cardinals swap their thoughts and move Rosy into the setup spot? Rosy would be an incredible setup man leading into Oh.
Another potential setup option would be Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist is a lefty and is clearly loved by Mike Matheny. Siegrist pitched a great deal in 2016 and finished well with a 2.77 ERA. He is arbitration-eligible so the Duke absence helps Kevin grab a little more money through the arbitration process but look for the Cardinals to lock him up without going to arbitration.
I wish I could predict the best internal option but I’m at a loss. I don’t think that Kiekhefer will be the option sought by the Cardinals, at least not out of the gate. If I were a betting man, I would guess the Cardinals keep Rosy in the pen and let him fill the Duke vacancy with help from Siegrist.