St. Louis Cardinals: Bullpens win pennants and the Cards need one

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Jordan Hicks
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Jordan Hicks /

It’s 2018 and it is no longer a secret that strong bullpens win pennant races. The disaster that was the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen was without a doubt the number one cause for another Fall of no baseball in St. Louis.

If you really think about it, all the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen had to do was hold one or two more games in the regular season and we’re watching the redbirds in October.

Is the reason the Cardinals missed the postseason for a third straight year only the bullpen’s fault? No, of course not. Would a better bullpen have beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series? No, it wouldn’t have.

Would it have helped? You bet.

Of course, the Cardinals are missing a few things: a star bat (e.g. Bryce Harper, fingers crossed on that one), the starting rotation needs to stay healthy or they need to find more depth for when it doesn’t, a full season without Mike Matheny, a hitting coach who isn’t John Mabry, and the ownership to spend some D*** money.

Let’s say all those things get fixed. To me, it still means nothing if the bullpen is not better. Whatever big bat the Cardinals find could give the 2019 crew a lead with nice starting pitching to match. But, if the 2019 bullpen isn’t any better than the 2018 pen… a lead won’t matter, will it?

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There are guys in the free agent class that I think could help this team.

Joe Kelly (what a playoff performance he gave), Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Adam Ottvino, and more.

The St. Louis Cardinals need a closer; however, I’m not a fan of signing big name closers (LOL @ Greg Holland). If they sign someone like Familia, he could find his way into that role. Usually though, someone will emerge and the Cardinals have the talent for that to certainly happen (Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes, etc.)

They need a lefty – actually they need two lefties. I think the answer here can be found in someone like Wilson, Andrew Miller, or trading for Tony Watson. One of those guys would help tremendously.

The second left-handed spot could go to prospect Genesis Cabrera. He reminds me of a left-handed Carlos Martinez. Plus, bringing up a young flame thrower last season worked out with Hicks so why not give it another go?

For the Cardinals to compete at a higher level in 2019 they must upgrade this bullpen. I fully expect many changes to be made and for the pen to look completely different in 2019.

The game is adapting where the bullpen is throwing four innings a game and your team has to be able to keep up.

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A closer is still important. But a closer can only be a closer if he gets the ball in the 9th with a lead. The 6th, 7th, and 8th, inning men may be even more important, now.