The 6 biggest surprises from the St. Louis Cardinals’ first month
4. Ryan Helsley’s utter dominance
I struggle to come up with an adjective that adequately describes Ryan Helsley‘s performance so far, so I’ll just throw some stats at you: 10 innings, one hit, 20 strikeouts, no walks. His Fielding Independent Pitching stat is in the negatives. That just doesn’t happen. While Giovanny Gallegos is doing fine in the closer’s role, it seems like only a matter of time before Marmol hands the reins to Helsley in the ninth inning.
Much of Helsley’s dominance stems from a fastball with almost no vertical drop, which means the illusion of the “rising fastball” is among the most convincing. Helsley has credited his pitching to his shoulder finally being healthy this year. If all that’s required to pitch like this is a healthy shoulder, there’s reason to be very excited.
5. Andrew Knizner’s competence
Since 2019, Andrew Knizner has been Yadier Molina‘s 9,000th caddy behind the plate (or so it seems). In 2021, he received the occasional start, but he didn’t do much with it, hitting .174 and showing below-average framing skills. 2022 looked like it would be another Molina-heavy year; indeed, Molina has announced this will be his final season, so a farewell tour would reasonably be in the cards.
However, Molina had a slow start to the season, and Knizner received more playing time than expected. While he hasn’t set the world on fire, he has looked more comfortable at the plate and behind it, with a .209 average and a .632 OPS. None of that screams “future starter,” but at least he now looks to be able to be a decent seat warmer while Ivan Herrera gets his last few shakes of seasoning in the minor leagues before he takes over in 2023.