St. Louis Cardinals: Bullpen southpaws are becoming an issue

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Andrew Miller #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the seventh inning of the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on April 8, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Andrew Miller #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the seventh inning of the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on April 8, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen needs more production from left-handers and may need to look outside the organization.

The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has seen better days from the left side. While Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes and Giovanny Gallegos have been excellent to start the year, left-handers Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb have been the bullpen’s weak links.

Miller, who was just placed on the 10-day injured list with a toe blister, has seen his velocity tick down this season. He has lost over three miles per hour on his fastball and just over two on his signature slider, and it’s showing in the results. Miller has already allowed 10 hits and five runs in seven innings. Part of the issue could also be the three-batter minimum rule.

Webb has fared even worse, surrendering seven runs in 7.2 innings and walking six, accumulating an ERA of 8.22. His FIP of 5.04 means he might be running into some bad luck, but walking seven batters per nine innings is not a recipe for success.

Genesis Cabrera is the best-performing left-hander in the bullpen. Twelve strikeouts and four walks in 10.1 innings are decent numbers. One might be concerned about his last appearance, though, when he hit two consecutive batters and appeared to lack any semblance of control. It will be a serious issue if the incident gets to Cabrera’s head and affects his pitching.

With Miller’s fading velocity, Webb struggling with control and Cabrera possibly dealing with a mental obstacle, the Cardinals might need to look outside the organization for pitching help. A trade is plausible, but if the team wants to wait and scoop up a free agent after this year, Alex Claudio, currently of the Los Angeles Angels, could be a good option.

Claudio, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers and knows the NL Central, is a left-handed submarine pitcher. He’s not much of a strikeout guy but has good control and comes at batters from a unique angle. And at age 29, he likely has a few solid years left. As a pitcher without much velocity who relies on his defense, Claudio could benefit from the Cardinals’ elite infield.

Now that Miller is on the IL and the Cardinals replaced him with right-hander Kodi Whitley, there are only two left-handed bullpen options. If the Cardinals don’t look for lefty help soon, the bullpen could be dangerously one-dimensional.

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