Alex Reyes is out as St. Louis Cardinals closer. Here’s how they’ll replace him.
With Alex Reyes struggling, and in need of rediscovering his confidence, the St. Louis Cardinals have moved him from the ninth inning to lower-leverage situations. The move comes as expected, but underscores just how far he’s fallen after a dominant first half of the regular season.
It forced Cardinals manager Mike Shildt to name a replacement and he believes that reliever Giovanny Gallegos is “pretty ideal for that scenario.” It was not long until he had evidence, with Gallegos retired every batter he faced on Wednesday in a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The game, which was a must-win for the Cardinals, moved them to three games behind the San Diego Padres for the second NL wild card spot. A key to the Cardinals’ early success was having a dominant arm in the ninth inning to close out games. With Reyes struggling, they no longer had that and blew a number of winnable games. With Gallegos, they hope to get back to that — and also hope they didn’t make the change too late in the season.
“He’s a guy who is built for the end of the game,” Shildt said, via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s got the ability to strike guys out. He’s got a low walk rate. And he’s got pitches for righties and lefties.”
Much like Reyes, Gallegos has been a workhorse for the Cardinals this season. The 30-year-old has appeared in 62 games (69.1 innings), his most since 2019 where he threw 74 innings, and has posted a 3.38 ERA and 80/16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While his stuff may not be on the same level as Reyes, he provides control and stability that Reyes does not, with Reyes walking 44 batters in 63 innings.
That number was too high for the Cardinals to feel comfortable with Reyes in the ninth inning and has raised questions about where he is best utilized going forward. They believe Gallegos is the best man for the job going forward and if Wednesday’s appearance is any indication, it appears they have made the right decision.