St. Louis Cardinals: Chasen Shreve move works, but only as depth

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PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 05: Chasen Shreve #40 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 5, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 05: Chasen Shreve #40 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 5, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Chasen Shreve was brought back on a one year deal by the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. While retaining the left-handed reliever is nothing too impressive, it is a move that can work if Shreve isn’t used as the primary left-handed specialist.

I don’t have many positives to say about this deal, simply because Chasen Shreve didn’t give me many reasons to be positive about his performance with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018. It is cheap, at $900K with $400K in performance incentives, but that’s about all I can think of in terms of true positives. It’s not too terrible, but it’s nothing to be particularly excited about.

He was mediocre at best for the St. Louis Cardinals this season, and the general consensus even before the trade was that Shreve was characteristically average, to put it lightly.

On top of that, the St. Louis Cardinals lost Luke Voit in exchange for Shreve. I was pretty high on Voit even before his breakout in New York following the trade, which makes me even more sour at Shreve’s general mediocrity this season. Sure, they got Giovanny Gallegos as well, but nobody knows when that will pay off for the Cardinals if it does at all.

Yankees fans certainly saw it coming, and that can be a better indicator of performance in many cases over any numbers you can provide. And let me tell you, the reactions were quite strong.

There was a blip of discontent here and references to decent games there, but the general consensus was that Yankees fans were more than willing to give Shreve up. Soon enough, he would show St. Louis Cardinals fans why.

Shreve was brought in as a LOOGY (lefty one out guy) after the miserable debacle that was Tyler Lyons, but he didn’t fill the role nearly as well as the St. Louis Cardinals would have hoped. The only problem is that it was pretty easy to see this coming.

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Shreve has never been stellar, exhibited by his 4.23 FIP and 4.26 BB/9 (No, that’s not a typo) against lefties in his career. His performance in the role for the Cardinals was as unimpressive as those stats would cause you to expect.

He faced 37 lefties with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018, allowing a .303/.378/.548 slash line to those batters, gave up 2 home runs, and walked 4. This translated to a 4.30 ERA and 6.29 FIP, numbers that won’t get you by in this league as a reliever.

Yet, somehow, Shreve has a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals major league roster. The cheapness of the deal makes it somewhat acceptable, but what isn’t acceptable is for Chasen Shreve to be the primary lefty in the bullpen this season.

He has never been very good, and signs point to him never being very good. His fastball isn’t remarkably fast, his slider is below average in spin rate and velocity for a major leaguer, and his splitter, which is his best pitch, only hit the strike zone 23% of the time and resulted in a ball almost 50% of the time in 2018.

If he was successful against lefties, this would be a different story. But he just isn’t.

dark. Next. Marty Marion, the original Cardinal short-stopper

John Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals front office cannot be satisfied with Chasen Shreve as the primary lefty specialist. He can be used as lefty reliever depth, but anything more would be putting him into a role he isn’t capable of fulfilling at a high level. With proven guys like Zach Britton and Andrew Miller available, the Cardinals should still make finding a lefty out of the bullpen a high priority.

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