The much maligned Cardinal bullpen should have got a much needed boost with the Andrew Miller signing last week. Even so, some will say we don't have a closer, some will simply say our bullpen still sucks and leave it at that. Will the Cardinals make 1 more move yet in the bullpen? Perhaps they might, but I am comfortable ( even more comfortable than MO was last year when he was confident that Luke Gregerson was our closer) with the state of our pitching staff and qualified candidates.
This post is not so much about clearly defined starter, middle relief, setup man, LOOGY, or closer roles as much as it is about the sheer number of options we currently have without making another move. Currently there are 22 on the St Louis 40 man roster. All have MLB experience but Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley. Cabrera, a 22 year old lefty starter, has pitched in 20 games all in relief in the Dominican Winter League allowing 7 hits and 2 walks in 14.1 innings for a miniscule 0.68 WHIP and a 13.2K/9 rate. Helsley, a 24 year old righty, had 13 starts in an injury shortened 2018 and allowed only 49 hits in 70 inninngs.
Chances are 13 pitchers go north out of spring training, ( I prefer 12 and like having 5 bench guys) but lets go with 13 here. I am going with these guys as locks: Flaherty, Mikolas, Martinez, Wacha, Miller, Hicks, Cecil, Gregerson, Gant,and Shreve. Gant and Shreve make that list for sure because they are out of options. Cecil and Gregerson due to contracts. Will the Cardinals eat one of those contracts out of spring training? I would hope so if they are not the best options but until then we will leave them in.
That takes us to 10 spots filled, and here are the names to fill the final 3. Wainwright. Yes I do believe that Adam makes the team out of spring and will at worse fill some middle relief innings if he does not start. Now we have 2 spots remaining.
Dakota Hudson seems likely and we all know about that kid named Alex Reyes. Here are some names that have not been mentioned: Austin Gomber, Dominic Leone, Mike Mayers(who is out of options), John Brebbia, Tyler Webb, the aforementioned Cabrera and Helsey. There are a few really longshot candidates out of AAA: Williams Perez(started 51 games for the Braves), Tommy Layne ( a lefty that struck out 36 in 29 innings last year), Hunter Cervenka another lefty signed offseason with a spring training invite. Kevin Herget, and Jake Woodford will start a lot of games for Memphis this year and cant be totally overlooked.
That in my opinion is a lot of qualified options to fill those 13 spots, if the Cardinals make no more pitching moves. Now if the Cardinals were to really surprise us and say we just signed Kimbrel, or Dallas Kuechel, I am all for that as well cause it makes us better. But until then let the spring training stampede begin.
Thanks for reading and I also update our minor league players progress in the Fall and Winter leagues at St. Louis Cardinal Minor League Spotlight on Facebook and share on the Cardinal Nation 24/7 facebook page. On twitter as well Jeff Schrader @StlCardsMinor