If Rosenthal doesn’t return to being an effective late-inning reliever, will southpaws Kevin Siegrist and Brett Cecil be enough to protect late leads for the St. Louis Cardinals?
The St. Louis Cardinals figure to open the season with Kevin Siegrist and Brett Cecil as their primary set-up men. It’s a role not foreign to either pitcher; Siegrist has seventy-two holds in four major league seasons and Cecil has fifty-four in eight seasons.
Siegrist in particular has been one of the better set-up relievers recently in Major League Baseball. Three of his four major-league seasons have been exceptional, with an injury-riddled 2014 being the only blip in his young career.
Siegrist dealt with some shoulder soreness at the beginning of camp, but has come back strong and pitched effectively in four spring outings. An effective Kevin Siegrist in 2017 will be a valuable asset again for the Cardinals.
He will be the first choice for Matheny to protect a lead in the eighth inning or earlier. The skipper has flexibility with Siegrist since he can get both right-handed and left-handed batters out. He’s a cog in the St. Louis relief corps.
The Cardinals signed Brett Cecil to a 4-year contract worth $30.5 million during the offseason. Since Zach Duke is out for probably the entire year after undergoing Tommy-John surgery in November, Cecil will step up into a key role in the bullpen.
Cecil’s had some experience in a set-up role in his career, and it appears the Cardinals will lean heavily on him to do just that this season.
This spring, Cecil has appeared in five games. Four of his outings were good for a scoreless inning of work, but a lone appearance earlier this month against the Mets was a disaster. He failed to record an out and surrendered six runs. Since he’s been good in all other performances besides that one, it’s safe to call that one performance an outlier for now.
For his Spring Training career, Cecil holds a 5.10 ERA. He may be one of those pitchers who uses the spring to fine-tune his repertoire so that he’s firing on all cylinders by the time the regular season hits.
This isn’t at all uncommon for pitchers in March. That’s also why spring statistics aren’t something to focus too much on. What really matters for a pitcher is if he looks like he’s in command of his deliveries, in control of the at-bats, and executing the pitches he wants to make.
Cecil has walked three batters in four innings so far in Grapefruit League action, but two of those free passes came during the outing where he didn’t record a single out. Because of that, he didn’t qualify for an inning pitched.
Brett Cecil is a veteran on the mound with the stability of a four-year contract. The Cardinals will rely on him to be a plus arm in the bullpen this season and in the future. That being said, Siegrist is still probably the first option for Matheny when a late-inning lead needs protection.