The much maligned Bud Norris has turned into possibly the most reliable arm in the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen. Did President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak know something Cardinals fans and media didn’t know? Could be.
Bud Norris stepped up on Monday night versus the Milwaukee Brewers to put out a fire that was started by St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny when he inserted Greg Holland in the tenth inning. Holland came in with a 4-4 tie game and promptly walked four of five batters he faced. The last walk to Orlando Arcia brought home Travis Shaw, which was the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
Monday’s night performance by Norris has made many St. Louis Cardinals fans and media members re-think their criticisms of the his signing in February. As of Tuesday, Norris has pitched 5.2 innings in 6 games and allowed five hits, one run, and no walks. He also has the most strikeouts of anyone in the bullpen (9) and the lowest WHIP (0.88).
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The bullpen’s only save so far in 2018 was credited to Norris versus the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 7th. Norris struck out three and only allowed one hit in one inning of work to give the Cardinals their only win in the season’s home opening series.
Only flame-throwing phenom Jordan Hicks can compare to Norris thus far. Although Hicks bests Norris in innings pitched (7.1 vs 5.2) and opponents BA (.125 vs .250), Norris incredibly has more strikeouts (9 vs 5) than the power-throwing right-hander.
This leads us to the earlier question: Did John Mozeliak know something the rest of us didn’t know about the former “Cardinal Killer?”
The Bud Norris signing on Valentine’s Day, for one-year $3 million, was much criticized by Cardinals fans and media. Nevertheless, the St. Louis Cardinals stated that Norris would be allowed to compete for a rotation spot during spring training.
However, Norris wasn’t impressive in his spring training starts and was soon destined for the bullpen. In fact, it makes you wonder if that was Mozeliak’s plan from the beginning. Norris was destined to add depth to the 2018 Cardinal bullpen.
Bud Norris was signed in 2017 by the Los Angeles Angels for that exact purpose. Specifically, due to Norris experience as a starter, he was to be the Angels long reliever. But due to a rash of injuries to the Angels’ bullpen at the start of the season, Norris inherited the closing role on April 22. Until August 4th, when he was relieved by Cam Bedrosian, Norris collected 19 saves. His elevated 4.21 ERA was attributed to some knee issues in late July.
With Greg Holland now in the Cardinal bullpen and the eventual return of Luke Gregerson, Norris is unlikely to have a role in late innings. Nevertheless, he could be a valuable piece either as long relief or in the middle innings.
Just maybe, Vice President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak, knew what he was doing when he signed Bud Norris. What do you think? Let us know.