What to expect out of Keynan Middleton for the Cardinals in 2024

The Cardinals have added right-hander Keynan Middleton to their bullpen for 2024. Here is what Cardinals fans should expect out of him this year
Houston Astros v New York Yankees
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On Thursday, the Cardinals made what could be their final move of the offseason, signing right-hander Keynan Middleton to bolster the bullpen.

It's a one-year deal with a club option for 2025 and he's a high-leverage arm that should fit in quite nicely with the Cardinals this year.

While the front office didn't do a great job piecing together the rotation, they have done quite well with the bullpen, having already added Andrew Kittredge in a trade with the Rays.

But what can Cardinals fans expect from Middleton this year? What will he bring to the table as the Cardinals look to put a disastrous 2023 behind them? Let's discuss.

What to expect from Keynan Middleton

Personally, I'm pretty excited about this deal. I was prepared for the Cardinals to go with another bargain addition instead of finding a high-leverage guy, but this isn't one of those moves that barely scrapes the surface.

It's certainly better than settling for someone like Nick Wittgren a few years back.

Now, let's get into the deal.

Middleton split time with the White Sox and Yankees last year, going 2-2 over 51 appearances and posting a 3.38 ERA. But what sticks out about this deal is that he's not strictly a ground-ball guy. He averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings last year.

The Cardinals really needed swing-and-miss in their bullpen, and he provides that. He'll probably slot into the back end of the pen next to Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos.

He doesn't give up the long ball very frequently either, averaging just over one per nine innings in his career.

That said, there are a few things to keep an eye on. He averaged 7.1 hits allowed per nine innings last year, so that's something he'll need to cut down on. The same can be said about the walks. He averaged 4.1 per nine last season.

But he certainly makes up for his shortcomings with swing-and-miss capability and high propensity to come through in high-leverage spots. If Helsley and Gallegos struggle, Middleton could slot into the closer's role.

Middleton is a key addition for the Cardinals, and I foresee him being a valuable weapon out of the bullpen. And if he can cut down on the walks and hits, the Cardinals are going to have something special.