St. Louis Cardinals: Cards vs. Cubs Bullpen
The Final Boss or Wade Davis?
Whose closer will better the other: the St. Louis Cardinals or the Chicago Cubs? Wade Davis or Seung-hwan Oh?
There is no denying what Davis brings to the Chicago Cubs. They brought in Davis for the same reason they went out and got Chapman last season: to win a championship. Davis has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the last three seasons and is arguably the best closer in the game.
Last season he was able to post a 1.87 ERA (9 runs) in forty-five games with zero HR given up and a WHIP of 1.13. He recorded twenty-seven saves out of thirty chances. His strikeout-per-nine-innings rate hovers right around 9.8 as he amassed forty-seven strikeouts in the same forty-five games. For a guy who was injured in 2016, that’s scary good.
Oh, a welcome surprise for the Cardinals in 2016, will enter the 2017 season as the closer. Although Oh played in more games than Davis, due to his use from reliever to closer, his season was nothing short of impressive.
In seventy-six games, Oh recorded a 1.92 ERA with five HR surrendered and a WHIP of .916. His strikeout-per-nine-innings rate was 11.6 as he struck out 103 batters. Over the last three months of the season as closer, Oh recorded a 2.27 ERA and a WHIP of .958 with nineteen saves out of twenty-two chances.
Both closers are certainly facing some questions coming into next season.
For Davis, the big question is if he is 100% healthy. Last year his arm injury forced him to miss a significant part of the season. I don’t have any reason to believe he is still hurt.
The Cubs probably wouldn’t make the trade if they thought he was either. If he stays healthy, tough sledding ahead for any National League team.
For Oh, there are two questions for me. The first is, do the Cardinals already consider him the full time closer or will Rosenthal get another shot?
I don’t see why the Cardinals wouldn’t have Oh as the closer, but stranger things have happened in Mike Matheny‘s bullpen.
The second question facing Oh is will he repeat his success last season in 2017? Spring Training will give fans a good sense of where he is physically. If Oh can stay healthy, like Davis, he will have a good year at the closer position.
So who does the advantage go to? Right now, my pick is Davis. While his health is a main concern, Davis is just that good. Over the last three seasons he managed to give up only twenty-four earned runs including only three HR. Even though the Cardinals managed to hand him a blown save last year, that doesn’t change my mind.