Which southpaws should be in the Cardinals' bullpen in 2023?
The left-handed options out of the bullpen is one of the biggest questions the St. Louis Cardinals are going to have to answer before the 2023 regular season begins. When the three-batter minimum rule started last season, it added to the importance of having a lefty on the mound late in games, because it was almost certain that they would have gotten at least one right-handed hitter out, the Randy Choates of the world are no more in this era of baseball. However going into the 2023 season, there's no guarantee on who will be that late-game lefty for the Cardinals, the options are currently minimal when it comes to experience and production, as the Cardinals did not go after any free-agent left-handed bullpen arms, but here are the current options for Oli Marmol to call on from the pen to open 2023.
1. Genesis Cabrera.
Cabby has the most experience pitching in late-game situations out of all the current options and has had success until he had a down year in 2022. Comparing his 2022 stats to 2021, not only did his era go up by almost an entire run but there were two specific stats that are concerning. His K/9 went from 9.9 in 2021 to 6.4 in 2022, also in 2021 he allowed 3 home runs in 70 innings, but in only 44 and 2 thirds innings last year, he gave up 8. He also had an unfortunate event in the summer of last season when he spiked the ball off the pitchers mound before Marmol took him out of the game, and cameras in the dugout saw Albert Pujols talking to him humbling him up. Then shortly after that missed some time with covid, which could be fair to blame for his numbers, but after the Cardinals failed to sign a left-handed reliever in the offseason, he'll have every opportunity in Spring to win the job.
2. Zack Thompson
Zack Thompson was one of several Cardinal rookies that contributed last season, and he was the Cardinals' most consistent left-handed reliever in the second half of last season. It was a small sample size though, an era of a touch over 2 in 34 and 2 thirds innings, but he made a good first impression. I would like to see him start the season with the Cardinals in the bullpen, but I don't think that's the long-term plan for the Cardinals. He did make one start last season and we might see him make more this year, however, with the current situation of not having a reliable lefty, we may just see him stay where he's shown success until further notice.