St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes could be the closer in 2018

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 13: Reliever Alex Reyes
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 13: Reliever Alex Reyes /

The St. Louis Cardinals are in need of a closer. Could top prospect Alex Reyes slide into that role?

All off-season, the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office made it clear the team is in need of a closer for 2018 and beyond. The team has been linked to Alex Colome, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. Redbird Rants very own, Dr. Miles, even wrote a piece suggesting Adam Wainwright could be the closer.

Wainwright certainly has the experience to fill the void, and the fewer innings he would throw from the bullpen could lengthen the career of one of our favorite Cardinals. I have another exciting option. Transition Alex Reyes into the ninth inning man.

It’s been reported by a few people Reyes will begin the 2018 season in the bullpen and possibly transition back into the rotation. Why not leave him in the bullpen and transition him into our closer?

First of all, Reyes has dominating stuff which is why he is dubbed by many as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. To gain more insight into him as a prospect, you can read this piece by Jonathan Mayo. In it, general managers and scouting executives were asked to vote on the game’s top prospects. Fifteen of the nineteen votes cast had Reyes as Major League Baseball’s top pitching prospect.

Fangraphs ranks Reyes’ fastball a 70/70, slider a 45/50, curve a 60/60, and his change-up as a 55/60. His command is his “weakest” ranking with a 40/50. Reyes has a fastball that can consistently be in the upper 90’s and two potentially devastating off-speed pitches.

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While many people probably want to see that kind of stuff in the rotation and across 180+ innings per year, the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff does not have another pitcher with electrifying stuff like Reyes, except Carlos Martinez.

The closer’s role is incredibly important nowadays. Having a guy with power stuff to strike people out at a high clip is essential.

Alex Reyes has great K/9 numbers throughout his career. Those numbers have been over ten each year. He even struck out 10.2 per nine over 46 innings in his brief Major League debut in 2016.

Plus, the St. Louis Cardinals do have some prospect depth in the starting pitching department. The Major League rotation is seemingly set with Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Luke Weaver, and Miles Mikolas slated to begin the season as the starting five. In the minors, the Cardinals still have top prospects Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, and Jordan Hicks waiting in the wings to fill a rotation spot in the next year or two.

Unless some of those guys are traded for a big-time bat or another ace-type pitcher, the future of the rotation actually starts to get a little crowded. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great problem to have. But, the Cardinals will have to find a place for these guys or use them in a trade package. Using Reyes as the closer frees up one of these spots.

Luke Gregerson has experience as a closer, saving 66 games in his career. I think he could begin the season as the closer, using Reyes in the seventh and eighth inning to put him in high pressure situations. Ideally, his confidence and stuff keeps getting better and he can become the closer sometime in May or June.

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Maybe the Cardinals will still trade for a closer or sign one in free-agency. But, this move saves us money and prospects. Alex Reyes definitely has the stuff to develop into a dominating closer. What do you guys think? Would you rather see him in the rotation or as our high-octane ninth inning man?