Cardinals: Ryan Helsley in same conversation with top MLB relievers
St. Louis Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley has mowed down batters this year, and it could have a positive effect on the Cardinals and his community.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley made headlines after he threw the fastest pitch in baseball so far this year. While his 103.1 mph fastball was the attention-grabber, it didn’t take long for fans of other teams to see his stats and realize how well he’s pitched this year.
A recent FanGraphs article analyzed Helsley’s performance and noted his eye-popping statistics, including an FIP below zero for the season so far. It notes that Helsley’s fastball is his most dominant pitch, as it gained velocity and ride over the offseason. Helsley also doesn’t experience the all-too-common malady that belies so many flamethrowers in that he has outstanding control. He hasn’t walked a batter yet in his 8.1 innings pitched.
The article compares Helsley several times to peak Aroldis Chapman, and indeed, if Helsley keeps up this performance, he’ll likely take the crown from Josh Hader as the best reliever in baseball. That raises a question, though: Will manager Oli Marmol shift Helsley to the closer role, as managers have traditionally done with the best reliever in their bullpens? Or will he go back to what he said in Spring Training and opt not to peg one player as his closer (even though Giovanny Gallegos has netted all the Cardinals’ saves this year)? It’s a situation worth monitoring.
This isn’t the first time Helsley has been in the spotlight outside of Cardinals circles. Some fans might remember him from October 2019, when he called out Atlanta Braves fans’ use of the “Tomahawk Chop.” Helsley, who is of Cherokee descent, is one of a small handful of Native Americans to ever play in the major leagues.
If Helsley continues to pitch like this, Cardinals players and fans won’t be the only ones proud of him. Many of his friends and family members in his Cherokee Nation city of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, followed his progress to the major leagues, and Helsley has talked about how proud he is of his Native American heritage.
Helsley looks poised step on the big stage and act as an ambassador and a role model for many Native Americans, bringing awareness to the struggles many of them face today. It’s a win for the Cardinals, and it’s a win for his community. Fans should be rooting for Helsley to flourish.