The St. Louis Cardinals’ main priority this winter was to upgrade the offense. They accomplished that by acquiring Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies and re-signing Yadier Molina.
But perhaps the greatest strength remains in the bullpen, where the team has four quality high-leverage relievers. The unit, headlined by Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, and Jordan Hicks, was described by Zachary Silver “as formidable a back-end of the bullpen as it comes in the majors.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt echoed that sentiment, saying: “We expect it to be a strong unit — every reason to expect that. We have very capable guys that have done the job, and it’s an experienced bullpen. It’s a position of strength for the club.”
It’s a strength despite not adding any significant pieces this winter. As I described in my Inside The Clubhouse column, the Cardinals felt comfortable with their current bullpen not just because of the return of Jordan Hicks, but with the emergence of Alex Reyes. The team has set high expectations for Reyes this season, ranging anywhere from a 100-plus multi-inning relief role to seeing time in the ninth inning.
Combined with Hicks, a supremely talented right-hander, along with the veteran Miller, the Cardinals are in position to ride their most talented relievers this season.
There may be concern with Gallegos, who has allowed six runs in 5.2 innings pitched, but he has a 2.53 ERA in his last 82 appearances and the team believes he will be fine come the regular season. But the depth after those arms has come into question and could be a focal point at the trade deadline for president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.
For now, however, the Cardinals are optimistic about where their bullpen stands — and based on the talent on the roster, they have every right to be.