St. Louis Cardinals: Looking at three dark horse bullpen candidates
By Brett Ramsey
With spring training about to begin, it’s time to see the 2021 St. Louis Cardinals in action. Who are some surprise names to watch for in the bullpen competition?
As is usually the case every year in spring training, there are players who surprise and force their way onto the opening day roster. Depth is put to the test and competitions are in full swing. For the St. Louis Cardinals, this is no exception.
While much of the offseason for the Cardinals was rather boring, they sure put an exclamation point on things in the last several weeks. Now with spring training set to get underway, the roster building turns to roster organizing. Positional battles are something to keep a close eye on and for the St. Louis Cardinals, I’m interested to see how the bullpen shakes out.
A large part of the bullpen is already etched in pencil, but there is plenty of room for some surprises. So without further ado, let’s jump in and take a look at some dark horse candidates for the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen.
Quezada was acquired by the Cardinals on February 10 from the Philadelphia Phillies. He was added to the 40 man roster, so the team wouldn’t have to do any roster maneuvering to add him to the opening day mix. He has only three MLB innings in his career, but in six minor league seasons, his ERA was 4.05. He is listed as a huge 6-9 and 255 pounds. For the Cardinals to roll the dice on him they probably saw some upside. I firmly think he can come into camp and surprise some people. Keep an eye on him.
One of the team’s top prospects, the ceiling for Matthew Liberatore is sky-high. His future is almost certainly in the starting rotation but it would not be a surprise to see him debut out of the bullpen as the Cardinals have done with others in the past.
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While I think it’s unlikely he breaks camp with the big club, I would not be at all stunned to see him make his major league debut sometime this summer, likely out of the bullpen. As the St. Louis Cardinals’ prized return in the now-infamous Randy Arozarena trade, Matthew Liberatore should make an impact in the near future.
Johan Oviedo debuted last season with the St. Louis Cardinals. He went 0-3 with a 5.47 in 5 starts. Don’t let those stats deceive, he has talent. It is possible that his career trajectory sees him as a reliever long-term, and maybe that begins this season. I think he will likely compete for a role in the starting rotation this spring, but could wind up making the team in the bullpen. Regardless of his role, Oviedo will probably see time in the majors with St. Louis again in 2021.
These three players are three names to watch. One (Oviedo) has already debuted with the team. Another (Liberatore) likely will soon. The third, Quezada, is an interesting option. The trade for him was a minor move but we’ve seen the St. Louis Cardinals have success before in grabbing little-known players and weaving them into assets.
There will possibly be some other players pitching their way into the bullpen mix, but these are the three names I’ll be watching for.
With spring training about to begin, it’s time to get a first look at the 2021 St. Louis Cardinals. Most of the roster is pretty much set in stone but there are some competitions to watch and the bullpen will likely be one of them. These dark horse candidates could make a name for themselves out of the bullpen in 2021.