Cardinals remain linked to two former Astros relievers

Derrick Goold and others continue to report that the St. Louis Cardinals have interest in two relievers who most recently pitched for Houston.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Five
Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Five / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Hector Neris

Hector Neris made a brief appearance for the Philadelphia with the Phillies in 2014, but he played full-time for the team starting in 2015. Neris went on to play for them for a total of seven seasons before he signed a two-year dal with the Houston Astros in 2021. He was the primary closer for the Phillies in 2017 and 2019, and he racked up a total of fifty-four saves in those two seasons.

The former closer turns thirty-five in June, so a one or two-year deal is likely. Neris turned down an $8.5 million player option from the Astros; he is likely looking to command a deal with an average annual value north of $10 million.

During his brief two-year stint with the Astros, Neris pitched 133.2 innings, had a 2.69 ERA, struck out 156 batters, and had a WHIP of 1.032. His 2023 season was stellar; he finished with a 1.71 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.054 WHIP, and he struck out 10.1 batters per nine innings. The huge discrepancy between his ERA and his FIP indicates some good luck on his part and a stout defense behind him. He walked a near-career high amount of batters (11.4% walk rate), but he maintained low hit and home run rates.

Neris is no stranger to high-leverage situations. He has an extensive history as a closer, and most of his work was done in high-leverage situations last year for the Astros. According to Fangraphs, Neris faced 116 batters in important situations. He held batters to a .131/.246/.232 slash line while giving up three home runs. He struck out thirty-three batters to thirteen walks.

Hector Neris would immediately be a boost to the team's bullpen. He comes with some concerns given his high FIP, but hopefully the Cardinals' defense returns to form next year. With multiple Gold Glovers across the infield, Neris should continue to see success late in games. He could be used in tandem with Ryan Helsley at the back end of the bullpen, and the two could split "closer" duties.