Counting down the 20 most important Cardinals in 2023: #11 Ryan Helsley
Why is Ryan Helsley important for St. Louis in 2023?
Bullpens continue to increase in their importance in today's game, and having a stablizing force like Helsley goes a long way toward creating an elite relief core.
Helsley may be referred to as a closer by most people, but Marmol proved last year that he sees more value in utilizing Helsley as a "stopper", rather than solely in the 9th-inning role. If the middle of the order is coming up with a runner in scoring position in the 7th inning, Helsley is the guy to get the big outs.
While his 2022 season is likely unrepeatable, even something remotely close to it will ensure the Cardinals can hold down leads against their opponents and takes a ton of pressure off of their other relievers. With so many questions surrounding their pitching this season, the club cannot afford to have Heslely get injured or fall off a cliff performance-wise this season.
I find it interesting that the Cardinals considered trading Helsley this offseason, but based on his returns so far in Spring Training, I do not foresee any issues with Helsley's ability this year. If he remains healthy, expect Helsley to be one of the best relievers in baseball again this year, and spearhead a very underrated Cardinals' bullpen.