It’s no secret the St. Louis Cardinals are looking for help in the closer’s role, but no one knows who that will be in 2018, yet.
Early Thursday afternoon, the Mckernan Show tweeted out some interesting news surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals‘ pursuit of a new closer. According to the team, “The top priority this off-season is closer, and that pitcher will most likely come from outside the organization.” The source of the news is none other than John Mozeliak.
It should come to no surprise for Cardinal fans that the team is prioritizing a closer this off-season. The early struggles of Seung-hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal made it extremely difficult to close games in the early portion of the schedule. The team then turned to Brett Cecil in the ninth inning and we saw how that worked out too.
No one seemed to really take a firm grip on the closer’s role till Rosenthal found form. Then came his injury and Tommy John surgery. Rosenthal’s injury not only cost him the rest of last season, but more than likely the 2018 season in its entirety as well.
"Mozeliak: The top priority this offseason is closer, and that pitcher will most likely come from outside the organization.— The McKernan Show (@McKernanShow) October 19, 2017Mozeliak: The top priority this offseason is closer, and that pitcher will most likely come from outside the organization.— The McKernan Show (@McKernanShow) October 19, 2017"
The team’s confidence in anyone else was so low, they had no choice but to take a chance on Juan Nicasio. Fortunately, Nicasio excelled at the new role and became a beacon of hope for the St. Louis Cardinals down the stretch. Unfortunately, the moved happened a little too late for the Cardinals and they missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
If you’re wondering why the St. Louis Cardinals are prioritizing the closer’s role first, then I’m not sure you’ve watched the team that closely over the last two years. over the last two years the Cardinals have blown THIRTY-FIVE saves. Seventeen in 2016 and eighteen in 2017.
I wrote about that particular statistic was probably the rallying call to fire Derek Lilliquist and Blaise Ilsley earlier this month, but either way something has to change. The Cardinals cannot continue to squander leads in hopes to compete each year. I’m not saying the bullpen was the sole reason for the failures of the 2017 season. However, ten of those eighteen games would have us in the playoffs.
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So who are the St. Louis going to end up with in 2018 and beyond?
The Cardinals recently handed out a big contract to a relief pitcher last off-season and it blew up in their face. I wonder if there will be any hesitancy from the organization when it comes tot he contracts this off-season.
Will that hesitancy affect negotiations with closer’s if they are competing against another team?
I think Holland would be a great fit in St. Louis, but I would rather have Davis. However, I’d fully expect the Cubs to get in a bidding war with St. Louis for his services. I’m not saying the Cardinals cannot outbid the Cubs, but it will be extremely tough. I think the Cardinals will be wary of the contract handed to Cecil and think twice about certain pitchers.
Unfortunately, as I look at the free agent class for relief pitchers, Holland and Davis are the only two pitchers I would trust with the ball in the ninth inning. I know Nicasio’s name is on the laist, but he is not from outside the organization as Mozeliak said. I would be comfortable with Nicasio in the closer’s role, but I like him as more of a set-up man than anything.
Perhaps the next two names I would turn to if Holland and Davis are no longer available would be either Tony Watson or Jake McGee. However, that may seem desperate for the St. Louis Cardinals at that point.
Again, no surprise the Cardinals need a closer, but now we know where that closer is coming from in the off-season. Who do you think it will be?