The Cardinals have had many top-tier relief pitchers over the years. We will reveal the five all-time best relievers in franchise history.
Relief pitching for the Cardinals has been one position that has caused their fanbase much anxiety.
While it's been a source of pain, the club has had some excellent relievers over the years. While taking a look a the top five relievers in the Cardinals franchise history, it's essential to recognize those pitchers would deserve an honorable mention as the top relievers in the organization.
Trevor Rosenthal was a reliever for the Cardinals from 2012-2017. He earned All-Star honors in 2015. Rosenthal's two best seasons for the Cardinals were 2014-2015. Rosenthal had 45 saves for the Cardinals in 2014 and 48 in 2015. He threw 435 strikeouts over 325 innings, for a total of 121 saves throughout his five-season career with the Cardinals. Rosenthal last played for the Padres in 2020 and is still listed as a free agent.
Lindy McDaniel made his major league debut with the Cardinals in September 1955. He pitched for the Cardinals from 1955-1962. He played for other organizations through his retirement in 1975. McDaniel's best season with the Cards was in 1960 when he made the All-Star team and earned Fireman of Year honors. That season he had a .750 win-loss percentage, throwing a league-leading 27 saves. He had a career-best 105 strikeouts that season.
While with the Cardinals, McDaniel had a record of 66-54 over eight seasons with an ERA of 3.88, 15 complete games, two shutouts, and had 66 saves over 884.2 innings. He struck out 523 batters while wearing the birds on the bat.
McDaniel was never on a World Series-winning team during his 21-season career. He has pitched the most regular season games without a post-season appearance with 987 games. Francisco Cordero is the next closest at 187 games.
McDaniel passed away in November 2020 due to complications from Covid-19.
Ted Wilks played eight seasons for the Cardinals beginning in 1944. He compiled a 59-30 record with a 3.26 ERA. He started 43 games for the Cardinals while finishing 118 over 742.2. innings pitched. He had 21 complete games as a Cardinal. He had 29 saves. He threw 328 strikeouts with the Cardinals.
Cardinals catcher Joe Garagiola nicknamed Wilks "The Cork" because he was the "stopper" out of the Cards bullpen. He played on the Cardinals World Series championship teams in 1944 and 46. Wilks went on to play two seasons each with Pittsburgh and Cleveland before retiring in 1953.
Wilks died August 1989 in Houston.
Joe Hoerner played for the Cardinals from 1966-69. In his four seasons with the Cards, he was 19-10 with a 2.10 ERA. He finished a career-high 137 games for the Cardinals, netting 59 saves over 244.1 innings. He had 190 strikeouts while a Cardinal, with 412 over his career.
He helped the Cardinals win the 1967 World Series. He was traded to the Phillies in 1970. He retired with the Reds in 1977. He died in October 1996.
Eckersley had an impressive two-year stint with the Cardinals from 1996-97. He was 1-11 overall with a 3.58 ERA. He finished 100 in the 120 games he appeared in for the Cardinals. He had 66 saves in his two seasons, striking out 94 over 113 innings.
Eckersley was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 2004.
This is a part of a running series on Redbird Rants ranking the top 5 Cardinals at each position. You can find the other position groups we have ranked so far below.
Now, let's look at the top-5 relief pitchers in franchise history.