5 Cardinals relievers who are showing their prowess in Spring Training

Several newcomers who are fighting for a spot in the bullpen have had great springs thus far.

St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Riley O'Brien

The St. Louis Cardinals acquired Riley O'Brien in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in a minor trade back in November. O'Brien, 29, has seen some MLB action, but he has toiled in the minors for the better part of 7 seasons. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays, but he has also played for the Cincinnati Reds and Mariners.

When the Cardinals acquired O'Brien, the needle wasn't moved on their 2024 season outlook. He was going to compete for a roster spot in the spring, but fans didn't expect much out of the righty. His 28.6% walk rate compared to his 21.4% K rate in very limited time in the majors will stifle even the most optimistic pundit's analysis.

His minor league numbers were much more promising, however. He sported a 27.1% K rate compared to just an 11.8% walk rate in the minors. O'Brien's 3-pitch mix of a sinker, a cutter/slider, and a curveball is nasty. He has some of the greatest horizontal break in the organization on his pitches.

O'Brien's sinker averages 95 MPH and has more than 15 inches of horizontal break to it; it generates a lot of soft contact on the ground as well (71.4% groundball percentage in the majors). His curveball (potentially now a sweeper) is his best pitch, and its high velocity paired with insane horizontal break help the pitch generate whiffs at a best-in-league rate.

This spring, O'Brien has pitched in 5.4 innings. He has struck out 3 batters, walked 1, given up 4 hits, and has yet to give up a run. O'Brien's appearance on the major league roster hinges on a strong spring. He has proven his worth in just under a month of performances.