The St. Louis Cardinals needed pitching in a big way going into the offseason, and they've added a variety of arms as a result.
At the trade deadline, the Cardinals acquired seven different arms to bolster their organization as they sold for the very first time in the John Mozeliak era. While it was beyond frustrating to be in that position, they were able to add some much-needed depth to the organization, including top pitching prospect Tekoah Roby.
This offseason, the Cardinals continued that trend, adding three starting pitchers to their rotation as well as five different relievers to the mix as well. In total, the Cardinals have acquired fifteen different arms to the organization since the deadline, and are hoping that the mix of veteran arms and upside from the younger arms will produce better results in 2024.
While the work they have done to the rotation is underwhelming to most fans, I've been pleasantly surprised with the moves they have made to strengthen their bullpen mix this offseason. While the rotation got most of the headlines the last calendar year, those who watched the team on a consistent basis know how bad the bullpen was as well.
The Cardinals had the seventh most blown leads in 2023 with 41, including seven in the 9th inning. There are a number of factors that played into this, as closer Ryan Helsley missed a significant portion of the season, Giovanny Gallegos had a down year, and the rest of the bullpen was extremely volatile. At the beginning of the year, Jordan Hicks was awful, and then he became one of the best relievers in baseball before being traded. JoJo Romero didn't take on a high-leverage role until late into the season.
The rotation did not help their case either. Short outings put a strain on the bullpen from the very beginning of the season, and things never really seemed to level out. But even so, it felt like any time the rotation did give the Cardinals a good start, the bullpen would find a way to lose the game.
While the Cardinals mostly pursued innings in the rotation, they did go out and try and target upside with their bullpen additions. Most of the names they added have an elite trait that can produce swing-and-miss, and if a few of them hit, this bullpen could go from a bottom 10 unit to a top 10 unit in all of baseball.
As things currently stand, who is "in" the bullpen for Opening Day, and who may be fighting for a spot? Here is how I see the bullpen shaking out prior to the start of Spring Training.