The St. Louis Cardinals reliever impressing team officials the most
Meet right-hander Ryan Helsley, the St. Louis Cardinals reliever who is impressing team officials the most after a strong spring training.
The St. Louis Cardinals came under fire after not signing a high-leverage reliever this offseason after being connected to Joe Kelly, Ryan Tepera, Collin McHugh and plenty of others. Afterwards, they insisted that they believed in their internal options, a notion that some outside observers scoffed at.
It’s early, of course, but the first series of the season provided encouraging signs for the Cardinals – and reliever Ryan Helsley is a primary reason for that. He possesses high-leverage upside, as he regularly touched 100 mph on Saturday, and successfully sequenced his secondary pitches in a 1.1 inning, three strikeout appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“For me, he’s one of the most impressive guys,” bench coach Skip Schumaker said Saturday, via Katie Woo of The Athletic. “When you’re seeing 100 with off-speed for strikes, he’s going to be a huge part of this bullpen. Seeing him in leverage positions and leverage situations already early on in the season shows what we think about him. A healthy Ryan Helsley is a really good thing for us.”
Keeping Helsley healthy is going to be crucial for the Cardinals this season. He missed significant time in the second half of 2021 with two separate injuries and, considering the lack of bullpen depth the team already has and with Jordan Hicks in the rotation, Helsley becomes a critical part of the team’s bullpen.
In four seasons, the 27-year-old Helsley has posted solid numbers: a 3.94 ERA, 93/47 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 98.1 innings. The key for him, in addition to staying healthy, is cutting down his walks to the point he isn’t walking one batter for every two strikeouts. The early signs from spring training and his first outing of the season suggest that he is ready to do that.
If that’s indeed the case, a volatile bullpen that lacks ideal depth will suddenly look a lot better, and would make president of baseball operations John Mozeliak look very smart for his belief in Helsley and the entire bullpen.