St. Louis Cardinals: Recognizing one of Baseball’s Best Bullpens

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

The St. Louis Cardinals have quickly put together a talented bullpen with a mix of young and old, yet left the Cards out of the top 10 bullpens for 2019.

One of the biggest offseason goals for the St. Louis Cardinals was to revamp what was a sorry-looking bullpen. By signing Andrew Miller, they took a big step towards this goal. Returning are Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes, and Carlos Martinez, who are all elite bullpen arms.

Anthony Castrovince just recently put out an article detailing the top 10 bullpens for 2019 and conveniently left off the St. Louis Cardinals. I think this is an atrocity, especially with some of the bullpens that are “ahead” of us. For one, I don’t think the Nationals bullpen is any better than ours.

Sean Doolittle is a very good back-end reliever. So is Andrew Miller. Kyle Barraclough is talented but has struggled with control in the past, much like Jordan Hicks. Trevor Rosenthal throws gas and is coming off of a major injury, just like Alex Reyes. The difference is Carlos Martinez. He gives us a depth of elite arms that very few can match.

On a quick side note, I think Castrovince actually underrates the Brew-crew bullpen at 7th. Josh Hader is, in my opinion, the most dominant non-closer in baseball. Once Jeremy Jeffress and Cory Knebel come back in April/May, the Crew can ride their dominant pen to a good finish in the Central. But back to the important things.

The Phillies are no better than the Cardinals in the bullpen. Seranthony Dominguez, Dave Robertson, Pat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter. I’d take our young guys over their young guys. Dominguez is good, but he doesn’t throw 103 with movement. Jordan Hicks will be the biggest difference maker in our bullpen this year.

The Dodgers, ranked 9th, only have two legitimate arms in their bullpen. Kenley Jansen is without a doubt better than anyone we have. Joe Kelly isn’t, though. Once again, we have better quality depth and more of it.

The Giants being included for the last spot on the list over the Cardinals just makes me angry. Mark Melancon can’t stay healthy, Tony Watson isn’t much more than a situational lefty, and Will Smith is a very decent pitcher. They have one elite arm, and he doesn’t have the strikeout ability to be truly effective.

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The point is, this St. Louis Cardinals bullpen will be much better than everyone expects. Were I to rank them on this list, I would put them fifth, where the Nationals currently reside. I won’t argue that we are better than any of the Yankees, A’s, Astros, and Pirates. Those teams are all utterly dominant in the pen. The thing is, so are we.

The way he pitched in spring, Jordan Hicks is primed to become the most feared closer since a young Aroldis Chapman. Andrew Miller has been quietly back to himself, too. Alex Reyes is the most talented arm of the bunch, and we all saw how effective Carlos Martinez was out of the bullpen at the end of last year.

The final argument I make is that each and every one of our elite relievers is capable of throwing multiple innings. Miller was the pioneer of this movement with the Indians. Reyes and Martinez both came up as starters. Hicks was a starter every year until last year. They all have the ability to throw multiple lockdown innings. There is nothing better for the modern postseason than a bullpen that can shorten a game by this many innings.

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The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has been considered somewhat of a joke in the past, but this year is where the Redbirds should turn a corner on that front in resounding fashion. This bullpen is finally one St. Louis Cardinals fans can look to in confidence, and it should get the recognition it deserves.