Andre Pallante is going to be a key piece for the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen in 2024 and beyond. Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos are entrenched in high-leverage situations, but the team is going to need reinforcements. These could come externally through free agency, or these improvements could come from internal improvements by the team's own players.
It appears as though Pallante has taken it upon himself to improve for next year. He has been putting in some work at Tread Athletics in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tread has helped him improve his curveball, transitioning the traditional 12-6 pitch into a pitch with more speed and bite to it. He has developed what is more commonly known as the "death ball".
Blake Newberry of Viva El Birdos gave some more context to the elusive death ball.
Jordan Montgomery had plenty of success with this pitch, particularly against same-handed batters. Monty was the first pitcher to strike out Yordan Alvarez in the ALCS just a couple of weeks ago thanks to the death ball, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. Its spin rate is similar to that of a traditional curveball, but the pitch has increased velocity; it also has less of a "curve" to it and more of a quick drop toward the end of its path.
Pallante's fastball has been his best pitch in his career, but he needs a strong secondary pitch to confuse batters. Batters hit .302 and .321 against his curveball in 2022 and 2023, respectively. If Pallante can revamp that pitch to make it more effective, that would surely help his strikeout numbers, which dropped significantly between 2022 and 2023.
Pallante's slider also saw a sharp increase in opponent's batting average last season(.195 in 2022 to .341 in 2023). A death ball will hopefully confuse batters more and make them guess. The death ball, based on the video posted by Tread, seems like it could do some damage to opposing batters. Its sharp bite and increased speed will throw batters off.
If Pallante can learn to control it and if he can remain healthy, he can slot in as a third strong reliever in a Cardinals' bullpen that desperately needs some help.