The Cardinals "A" bullpen is the best in the league

The three relievers are the back end of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen are among the best in all of baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen wasn't a worry for many fans. While it wasn't supposed to be the best positional group on the roster, the improvements made by John Mozeliak over the offseason would help the team boast a better relief corps than in previous years.

Reality has been much more satisfying.

While relievers such as Matthew Liberatore, Giovanny Gallegos, Nick Robertson, and others have been used in lower leverage situations, the "Big Three" at the back end of the 'pen has been formidable in the biggest spots of the game.

The triumvirate of JoJo Romero, Andrew Kittredge, and Ryan Helsley have been virtually unstoppable. These relievers have been automatic late in games when it matters most, and Oliver Marmol has been able to employ them in consistent roles early in the season.

Let's take a look at these three by the numbers. Kittredge and Romero stand alone at the top of the leaderboards in holds with 10, Helsley is tied for first in the majors with 9 saves, their collective ERA is 1.25, they have a WHIP of 0.833 as a group, and thanks to them, the Cardinals are 12-0 when leading after the 8th inning. By himself, Helsley has pitched in every one of the Cardinals' 13 wins thus far.

The team's bullpen was supposed to be much better this year; a healthy Ryan Helsley, a redemptive Giovanny Gallegos, and an ascendant JoJo Romero were all going to be high-leverage relievers. The signing of Keynan Middleton -- who has yet to make an appearance due to an injury -- along with the trade for former All-Star Andrew Kittredge only deepened the late-game pitcher depth.

What has come to fruition is greater than we could have imagined. While the second-tier relievers of Andre Pallante, Giovanny Gallegos, and Matthew Liberatore have left a lot to be desired, the three relievers who are most likely to appear late in games have allowed fans to rest easy when the offense gives the team a lead late in games.

As a whole, the bullpen has been strong; their staff ERA of 3.49 ranks 9th in baseball. However, their strikeout rate as a group is 7th in baseball with 9.64 K/9 innings, their 3.44 FIP ranks fifth, and they have the 6th-best bullpen fWAR total at 1.1. Kittredge, Romero, and Helsley have been able to overcome subpar outings from Pallante and Gallegos.

The 2024 bullpen has started the season off strong. The starting rotation has held its own, and Mozeliak targeting guys who can consistently pitch 6 innings makes a lot more sense now. If the offense can continue to heat up, then all of the puzzle pieces that were formed in the offseason will start to dovetail in the right spots.