Alex Reyes will be the St. Louis Cardinals’ primary closer
The rise of Alex Reyes continues.
It became increasingly clear during spring training that Alex Reyes would play a prominent role in the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen.
Reyes entered the season unsure if he would be in the rotation or bullpen, but quickly realized he would be a reliever. Then president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said he was primed for a 100+ inning season in a multi-inning relief role. Then manager Mike Shildt indicated that he may see some time in the ninth inning.
Now, Reyes will open the season as the Cardinals’ primary closer, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, though the team will not refer to him as their “closer.” But he’ll be the player who comes into games, perhaps as early as the eighth inning, to seal the games for the team.
It’s a meteoric rise for Reyes, an uber-talented pitcher who has battled injuries throughout his career. His most recent string of injuries included a Tommy John procedure that was followed up with another surgery. But now that he is healthy, Reyes was throwing in the upper 90s consistently in camp and was by far the pitcher drawing the most praise.
It sets Reyes up for an intriguing future with the team. There is still optimism that he will be a starting pitcher, perhaps as early as next season. It’s something the organization felt strongly about when they drafted him, but injuries have delayed that jump. But if he is able to stay healthy all 162 games, and maintains that high-end level of pitching, it would hardly be a surprise if he enters ‘21 as a starter.
For this season, however, Reyes will be a high-leverage reliever. Based on the early return, and the feedback he’s gotten from hitters, he’s one of the most popular picks for a breakout season in all of baseball.