St. Louis Cardinals: Where does Alex Reyes fit long-term?
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Alex Reyes to be a starting pitcher, but injuries sidelined him early in his career and led to him starting the regular season in a relief role.
However, as spring training ramped up, Reyes clearly established himself as a potentially dominant reliever. It’s why manager Mike Shildt and the coaching staff felt comfortable giving him the primary spot in the ninth inning and established that his role, if he remains healthy, would be 100-plus innings.
But where does Reyes best fit long-term?
It’s a question that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently posed to three Cardinals legends Lee Smith, Jason Isringhausen and Al Hrabosky. Of the three, Isringhausen gave perhaps the most interesting answer, saying that “If he logs enough innings this year to show his durability, I think he’s better suited to be a starter. He’s got four ‘plus’ pitches, all ‘swing-and-miss’ pitches.”
It’s likely the Cardinals coaching staff and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak agree. After all, he has proven to have elite stuff with high velocity. He has been dominant to start the 2021 season and that velocity, along with his other ‘plus’ pitches, set him up to be a cornerstone piece whether it’s in the rotation or in a high-leverage relief role.
Reyes, 26, likely wants to be a starting pitcher. Health has prevented him from doing that and this year has shown he can be dominant out of the bullpen. But if he stays healthy, he could be the long-term answer atop the rotation alongside ace Jack Flaherty.
It may have taken longer than the Cardinals had hoped, of course, but their vision could soon be coming into focus. Now, it’s up to Reyes to stay healthy and continue his early string of dominance.