After his first fully consistent year in the MLB, the St. Louis Cardinals will look to push Alex Reyes as a starter in 2021.
To this point this winter, the St. Louis Cardinals’ offseason has been boring almost to a painful level. Rumors of the fate of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright continue to swirl, but the team has done next to nothing to this point.
Don’t be upset, almost every other team has also done next to nothing, especially when it comes to the Cardinals’ biggest need: offense. Take this into account for a minute: teams still don’t know for sure if there will be a DH or not, regardless of the memo Rob Manfred sent out. While there has been good news in the USA about a potential vaccine being approved, teams still don’t know if or how many fans will be allowed in the stands for 2021.
Add on to that the fact that most teams are trying to cut or at least manage payroll and this offseason is what happens. There have been a couple of moves this week, but the virtual “Winter Meetings” might as well not be happening.
What this week did bring was another media session for Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak. While Mo said a lot, there was one specific note from Mo that was good news for 2020: Alex Reyes will get innings as a starter.
For longtime fans of Reyes, this is a dream come true. All the way back in 2016, Reyes was a top-10 prospect in the sport before his debut. His debut at the end of 2016 came from the bullpen and the righty performed better than fans could’ve guessed, allowing just eight runs in 46.0 innings.
Skip forward a few years, and Reyes fell off the prospect map due to countless injuries and other hardships. From 2017-2019, Reyes threw just 7.0 MLB innings and didn’t have any expectations as a 25-year-old coming into 2020.
While he only pitched 19.2 innings this season, he did so without health issues (other than contracting COVID-19 over the break). His 3.20 ERA and 12.4 K/9 showed he still had that fantastic stuff that brought him to the top of prospect lists. However, Reyes’ 6.4 walks per nine still needs work.
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In any sample this small, numbers can’t be trusted too much. These numbers will likely look different over a longer season, but they are plenty to build on for Reyes and the most important factor for him is health.
In 2021, it seems the Cardinals will let the rotation be a free for all after Jack Flaherty and Kwang Hyun Kim. Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Reyes, and the other plethora of young arms are all going to have a shot to take a role.
After a season like 2020 where Lance Lynn led the MLB in innings pitched with just 84.0, it is going to hard for pitchers to immediately go back to 180-200 innings. Because of this, players who can throw a really good 100-120 innings are going to be extremely valuable in 2021. That mark is a realistic place to see guys like Reyes, Johan Oviedo, Daniel Ponce de Leon, or Austin Gomber at for the coming year.
Continuing to keep Reyes trying for a starter role is great for his value to the team and even he is starting a few years down the road from when everyone expected him to, it would be an amazing thing to get another healthy year out of Reyes.
Reyes still has the stuff of a front-line starter it will just come down to if he can stay healthy and limit walks. The Cardinals have two more years of control on Reyes and there is still plenty of time for him to become a tenured member of the starting rotation.