The St. Louis Cardinals are still looking for, and/or deciding their 'closer' for the upcoming 2019 season.
To date, with the MLB Spring Training only 41 days before pitchers and catchers report in, Cardinals have 22 pitchers listed on their 'full' 40 man roster (career ERA indicated):
RP-R John Brebbia (28) 2.81 ERA
SP-L *Genesis Cabrera (22) N/A MiLB
RP-L Brett Cecil (32) 4.29 ERA
RP-R John Fasola (27 - Rule 5 draft pick) 3.28 MiLB
SP-R *Jack Flaherty (23) 3.71 ERA
RP-R Giovanny Gallegos (27) 4.55 ERA
RP-R John Gant (26) 3.97 ERA
SP-L *Austin Gomber (25) 4.44 ERA
RP-R Ryan Helsley (24) N/A - Seven appearances in High-A MiLB - TJ surgery Aug. 2018
RP-R Jordan Hicks (22) 3.59 ERA
RP-R Dakota Hudson (24) 2.63 ERA
RP-R Dominic Leone (27) 3.60 ERA
SP-R *Carlos Martinez (27) 3.37 ERA
RP-R Mike Mayers (27) 7.15 ERA
SP-R *Miles Mikolas (30) 3.61 ERA
RP-L Andrew Miller (33) 3.98 ERA
SP-R *Daniel Poncedeleon (26) 2.73 ERA
SP-R *Alex Reyes (24) 1.44 ERA
RP-L Chasen Shreve (28) 3.66 ERA
SP-R *Michael Wacha (27) 3.77 ERA
SP-R *Adam Wainwright (37) 3.32 ERA
RP-L Tyler Webb (28) 4.76 ERA
Of course this list will be reduced tremendously by the end of Spring Training. Out of the 22, nine are listed as starters - whether minor league or major league. However, each will be competing for the Cardinals five man rotation.
Interesting to note, John Fasola, a Rule 5 draft pick in December from the Texas Rangers. He missed the 2017 season due to Tommy John's surgery. Making his comeback in 2018, doing well. Unfortunately, in July with a collision at the plate, was placed on the 60-Day DL due to a torn ACL and sprain to the knee. Now we will see this Spring if all is well for our Rule 5 pick.
Another, Ryan Hensley ~ within the Cardinals organization, he has been compared to former 'closer' Trevor Rosenthal in his prime. Just sayin.
As Cardinals fans know, SP Miles Mikolas was a force for our Cardinals in 2018. Pitching 200.2 innings, only allowing 186 hits and closed the season 18-4. For a team who really had no "designated Ace", Mikolas proved himself to be.
In defense of reliever, Mike Mayers. Yes, his career ERA is 7.15. However, in 2018 he came into his own and closed the season with a 4.70. I look for him to be stronger in 2019. Projection is that he will be at 4.67 ERA this coming season. I feel he will even be better - more around the 4.00 mark.
Even though, a healthy list of pitchers, Cardinals still are looking for the 'closer extreme'. Reportedly, consideration has been mentioned for Jordan Hicks. In my opinion, even though with his extreme heater pitching capability, until we see consistency in his control would I place him in a closing role. In his rookie season, late inning a total of 77.2 IP, he held a 1.339 WHIP - 59 hits allowed, 31 earned runs and held a 45-70/BB-SO ratio. Need better from this young hurler. Yes, his 104 mph fastball is impressive - but it must be reigned in to be truly effective.
We know Carlos Martinez is considered a starter and was Cardinals hopeful as "Ace' to replace Adam Wainwright. However, coming out of the bullpen last season he was impressive. Dealing with three stints on the DL, by placing him in a relief role took the pressure off shoulder and arm. And he gave the Cardinals five saves in September. He has the capability of long relief or being closer should the Cardinals not find "the one" they seek via free agency or trade.
And to date, even though young arm Alex Reyes is listed as a starter. From previous reports Cardinals are in a 'wait and see' how he performs come Spring Training. Going through TJ surgery missing all of 2017, then pitching only 4 IP in 2018 due to a shoulder issue, they will use caution for their young pitcher, who has the potential to become Cardinals Ace. However, he too may be considered in a closing role.
There are a lot of questionable's in Cardinals current list. Yes, Spring Training will be a process of elimination for their 25 man roster. And I know, as grumbling becomes stronger, again, there will be at least one pitcher many will want to see 'thrown to the curb'.
PLAYERS MENTAL HEALTH IS VERY IMPORTANT
An excuse? No, it is not. As we live our 'every day lives' some people experience 'depression' which makes their lives hell. Just because a player is being paid 'the big bucks' does not make them exempt from mental issues which is a very important part of their performance. And, not being strong mentally can affect their physical outcome. Recently, Dexter Fowler came out about his own 'mental demons' in 2018. Maybe some fans should be as considerate with Brett Cecil, also, as he suffered from such during the season.
I feel both of our players will rebound ~ so I may serve up some 'crow dinners'.
BACK-UP CATCHER FOR THE CARDINALS
With the Cardinals re-signing catcher Francisco Pena to a minor league contract, presumption is that he, again, will be back-up for Yadier Molina. Can Cardinals find a better one? Maybe. But, in my opinion, Pena did a solid job for the Cardinals in 2018. He will be a part of the 'invitees' for Spring Training. He will have his chance to regain the position.
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