St. Louis Cardinals: A Look At The Pitching Staff

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The St. Louis Cardinals have signed LHP Brett Cecil.  This gives Kevin Siegrist some help in the form of another lefty arm.

So this leaves the question of where Cecil will fit into picture for the St. Louis Cardinals.  There are some who believe he is going to help the back end.  There are some who see him taking on a role similar to that of Andrew Miller in Cleveland, where he will come in and eat up innings as needed.

The fact remains that the St. Louis Cardinals seem to have a plethora of arms and combinations from which to choose. This is a good problem to have, especially for a bullpen that struggled last year.

Something this year will get shaken up, that is clear.  Cecil is just the most recent change to the pitching staff in St. Louis.  There is also the confirmed attempt to expand the role of Trevor Rosenthal, as well as the favorable rumors of Michael Wacha becoming a reliever.

Without Wacha in the starting rotation, the Cardinals still have plenty of starting options.  Without question Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, and Lance Lynn will be in the rotation.  Mike Leake should be in the there too, but his 9-12 record with a 4.69 ERA makes it very difficult to say he will be for sure.

There are two spots left in the rotation, and Leake most likely will be taking one of them.  With the assumption that Wacha is a bullpen pitcher now, that leaves Jaime Garcia and the young fire-baller Alex Reyes.

Based on the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals picked up the option for Garcia, this might indicate that they are leaning toward a rotation spot.  He could, on the other hand, also be used as trade bait.  Should Garcia be traded, then Reyes would take on a starting role.  With Garcia on the team, Reyes looks to take on more of a long relief role.  At 22, and with the talent he has, Reyes is poised to breakout as a star.  That bullpen role, then, may not last too long.

Reyes showed his ability going 4-1 in five starts, posting an ERA of 1.57.   The thing with Reyes is that he appeared in only 12 games.  Since more often than not he came out of the bullpen in 2016, his flexibility will be helpful as the 2017 season progresses.

Ideally, in a couple weeks during the Winter Meetings, Wacha, Garcia, and maybe even Rosenthal will be shopped around to bring in an outfield bat.  Rosenthal is doubtful to be moved, especially because of the expanded role they want for him.

Instead of being a closer or set up man, Rosenthal will become a middle-to-long relief pitcher– another option to take on the “Andrew Miller role.”  This move bears a warning label: Proceed with Caution.  Rosenthal has not really shown a whole lot other than a live fastball, which could come back to hurt him in multi-inning situations.

Cecil will prove to be a genius move if Rosenthal fails in that role.   It will be something to keep an eye on as pitchers and catchers report in just a few months.

More from St Louis Cardinals News

The rest of the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals, even with the unrelenting injury problems, looks good.  Along with Rosenthal, Wacha, Cecil, and Garcia/Reyes, there still remains Jonathan Broxton, Matt Bowman, and the closer Seung Hwan Oh.  Lyons will join the conversation early in the season depending on how he rebounds from knee surgery.

A shortage of arms is not going to be the issue.  The question is, if the 34-year-old Oh falls off as the closer, who will take over?  Broxton once closed in Los Angeles so maybe him, or Cecil- if he is as dominant as he was at the end of last year- could be an option.

Throughout the organization, there doesn’t seem to be a serious candidate to take over the closer role.  During the last season, there wasn’t that one guy the St. Louis Cardinals knew they could turn to for big outs.

The age of the pitching staff could affect the rotation as well.  Wainwright has had a great career but he is 35.  Last season he showed some signs of aging on the way to a terrible season by Wainwright standards.  The standing ace ended with a 4.92 ERA and a 13-9 record.

The starting role will be easier to fill because of the options that Reyes, Garcia, and even Wacha in a pinch,  give them.  Luke Weaver can be asked to spot start too, if needed.  Either way, Wainwright’s production is something to watch this year.

Next: Overload On The 40 Man Roster

Needless to say, this offseason has been crazy for the Cardinals.  Between injuries and signings, the organization doesn’t seem to have lost a whole lot.  The unreliability seems like an anomaly.  Cecil has brought much needed help, and the pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals look poised to return to the dominance they achieved two seasons ago.

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