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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Phil Maton

Phil Maton is another name that has been tossed around in signing with the Cardinals. Maton, thirty, was also most recently a member of the Houston Astros. One thing that makes both Maton and Neris attractive is their playoff pedigrees. Both players have won a World Series and played major roles in the Astros' victory in 2022.

"Phil Maton is a name to watch. He's a free agent. He's from Illinois. I'm always hesitant to point out the hometown link unless there's really something to it. Look at what he's done for the Astros' bullpen, and it's easy to see the role he'd have with the Cardinals -- and his October pedigree, too."

Derrick Goold

Clearly, the Cardinals are interested in Phil Maton. He is local, he's talented, and he's experienced. Maton has a career 4.25 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 1.326 WHIP, and he has struck out batters at a 26.4% clip for his career. In 2023, he pitched sixty-six innings with a 3.00 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 1.121 WHIP, and struck out 27% of the batters he faced. Maton's career walk rate (9.2%) is significantly better than Neris's, but Neris strikes out batters more frequently.

Maton hasn't been used as a closer in his career, as he only has two saves to his name; however, he is still familiar with high-leverage situations. Most of his usage last year was in low-leverage situations according to Fangraphs, but he still saw 61 batters in high-leverage situations.

In those at-bats, Maton struggled. Batters slashed .342/.533/.390 and he walked two times as many batters as he struck out (fifteen vs. seven). Should Maton be signed this offseason by the Cardinals, he likely won't be used as a closer. I could see him being used as a bridge to Gallegos, Romero, or Helsley.

While both Hector Neris and Phil Maton would be improvements for the Cardinals' bullpen, I would prefer Hector Neris. He has serious strikeout numbers, and he has plenty of strong experience late in games. While Maton would be a good signing, he doesn't have the resume that the team needs late in games.