Counting down the 20 most important Cardinals in 2023: #17 Giovanny Gallegos
Why is Giovanny Gallegos important for St. Louis in 2023?
If you've watched much of Spring Training or the World Baseball Classic, you'll notice the Cardinals have a lot of interesting bullpen options, something the club is really excited about. Many of those arms are relatively unproven though, leaving the Cardinals with very little "certainty" from their arms to this point. Gallegos has the opportunity to provide that for St. Louis.
Gallegos has been a workhorse out of the bullpen for St. Louis for years, being relied on heavily to get big outs for the club, often times being relied on too much. Managers have to balance the fine line of pitching their best guys, and letting them rest while trusting "less qualified" arms. 2022 was a career-low in innings since becoming a staple of the Cardinals' bullpen, something that I think was by design for Marmol and his staff. In order to maintain their best arms, I'd expect Gallegos to hover around 60 innings again, rather than the 80-90 inning range.
The beauty of how Marmol uses his bullpen now is that the Cardinals can pretty much shut down an opposing offense in the later innings by deploying two guys worth of being closers on championship ball clubs in Helsley and Gallegos. If Helsley is unavailable for a game, than Gallegos slots in as the Cardinals' go to option that day. The flexability that Gallegos provides the Cardnals in the biggest moments of games is something that they'll need if they want to go deep into October this year.
Should Helsley go down with in injury, Gallegos is also perfect insurance for that "closer/stopper" role that Helsley now plays. You never want injuries to happen, but they are a part of the game, so having an option like Gallegos provides an incredible safety net for the club.
Gallegos, at times, has been unfairly criticized and questioned for how good of an arm he really is. Although his ERA has sat around 3.00 or above since his 2.31 ERA season in 2019, his FIP each of those seasons has been 2.87 or below. Having Gallegos and Hesley come October means you've got the 8th and 9th innings covered, really helping shorten the game for the rotation and rest of the bullpen.
All the Cardinals need in 2023 from Gallegos is more of the same. If he provides that, they can let the rest of their bullpen sort itself out over the season. If Gallegos struggles or is unavailable, the bullpen will have a lot of question marks surrounding it.
Where would you have Giovanny Gallegos on this list? Let us know in the comments below, and check back in with us each day as we continue to countdown the 20 most important Cardinals of 2023.