Following what can be called nothing short of a dumpster fire by the Cardinals bullpen against the Cubs in the NLDS, I’ve seen all manner of discontent towards them, whether it be outlandish trades or a complete revamp of their relievers over the offseason.
So here I am to do my best to evaluate these late-game pitchers, one at a time (in alphabetical order, naturally). The guys that are bombarded by hate when they give up one run in a game and praised the next after retiring the side in order. Buckle up, this could take a bit.
Belisle is a tough guy to talk about. We didn’t actually see him much this year thanks to injury despite acquiring him this past offseason. In 33.2 innings he allowed 10 runs, but gave up baserunners a bit too often, ending with a 1.46 WHIP.
He could have been a valuable bullpen piece had he not missed several months due to elbow problems.
Broxton took way too much heat over the course of his stint with St. Louis. I’ll be honest, I was part of said heat at times, but the reality is that ol’ Jonny-boy wasn’t bad at all while he was with the Cards.
Giving up 7 earned runs in 23.2 innings with us, striking out 26 and walking 12.
So not a bad pickup in the end by Mozeliak at the deadline, but he still shouldn’t have been on the postseason roster (I’ll get to that).
Oh, Randy. What can I say about him that hasn’t already been said? He was paid almost 3 million dollars this year to do one thing: get lefties out… and he couldn’t even do that.
Choate allowed 29 hits and 12 runs in 27.1 innings in 71 games. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider most of the time he only had to face one or two batters.
In fact, he had 20 appearances this year in which he didn’t record an out! Incredible.
Cishek was the other of the two relievers picked up by the Cards at the deadline, and a quick look at his statline (6 ER in 23.1 innings) leads you to believe that he was quite a solid pitcher.
The reality is, he wasn’t. Cishek’s FIP, which is a measurement of what the pitcher’s ERA would be if the defense behind him was league-average, was 4.33. A far cry from his 2.31 ERA that was posted during his stint in St. Louis.
Essentially, Cishek got very lucky as a result of the defense behind him, and was probably the worse of the two bullpen pickups at the deadline.
Mitch Harris is a solid reliever with a great story.
The Naval Academy graduate was fantastic early in the year following injuries to the bullpen, but was sent back to Memphis until September following a few less-than-stellar games.
The appearances thereafter were solid for the most part.
Definitely someone to look out for; a possibility for full-time pen duty next year depending on what happens.
The double-play machine. The groundball extraordinaire.
Whatever you’d like to call him, Maness especially excelled this season with runners on.
Constantly able to get out of sticky situations late in games, Seth used his sinker to help him produce one of the highest groundball and double play percentages among relievers.
His statline is marred by a few ugly starts midway through the season, but despite that Maness was one of the most reliable bullpen guys this season.
I’m going to peel back the curtain for a minute and reveal my bias.
I love Trevor Rosenthal. All hail the new single-season Cardinals saves leader!
I really do. I love the triple-digit heat, I love the filthy changeup. Not really a fan of the heart-attack inducing outings though.
If Rosie could tone down the baserunners, whether they be from hits or walks, he’d be the best closer in the game, period (he’s already well on his way). Really, I think he just does it to scare us, then reveals his true self and strikes out the side.
The end of his season was rough for sure, but he was absolutely lights-out for the great majority of the season. Just… don’t scare us so much next year, buddy.
Kevin Siegrist is an interesting case indeed.
I’ve heard conversations of all sorts ever since he served up those two costly dingers against the Cubbies in the division series. Whether those conversations be of wanting a trade or reducing his role, they’re all wrong. Every single one.
Because Kevin Siegrist was the Cards’ best relief pitcher. All season long.
It’s rare that I singularly place blame onto one person; but this pitcher’s postseason struggles and moderate late-season struggles were a result of one person and one person only:
The skipper called Siegrist’s name in the bullpen phone 81 times this season. 81 TIMES. Half the games in the regular season, topping the charts for appearances for pitchers. I think we can come to a consensus that’s a bit too much of a workload.
Siegrist, or “Stag” as I like to refer to him, was dominant the entire season, posting a 2.17 ERA and allowing only 53 hits in 74.2 innings.
It doesn’t matter how many injuries befall a bullpen throughout a season; no pitcher should be used that often, even if they are fantastic. Despite that, Siegrist, in my opinion, was a top 10 reliever in baseball this year.
My biggest gripe with the postseason roster wasn’t the inclusion of Jon Jay. It wasn’t leaving out Pete Kozma (I assure you, I was heartbroken).
It was the omission of Soco Loco.
Socolovich didn’t see nearly as many innings as he should have. He rose above and beyond what was expected of him as a rookie, allowing only 25 hits and 6 runs through 29.2 frames.
He certainly should have been on the postseason roster, but don’t worry; we can expect to see a full season out of the pen for Miguel next year.
Tui is a pitcher not unlike Trevor Rosenthal; a closer who can throw triple-digit heat.
With Rosie himself filling the closing spot, Tuivailala had to settle for middle relief, but still excelled in his short stint in the Majors.
Striking out 20 and allowing 5 runs in 14.2 innings, Sam proved to be a guy that could be relied upon to come in for an inning or two and make hitters look foolish.
I expect (or at least hope) to see him step up and take on a larger, full-time bullpen role next year.
Villanueva, who I affectionately refer to as “House Eggs” (I don’t get it, I know it’s not the right translation, whatever), proved to be more valuable than I think any of us expected.
Allowing only 50 hits and 20 ER in 60.1 frames, Carlos was the go-to long man when called upon, and helped keep the Cards in games that started poorly, proving invaluable during several wins this year.
At times it was surprising to not see Matheny slot him in as a starter, as he proved that he would certainly be able. It most likely would have aided in saving innings for Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, but alas.
There isn’t really much to say about Waino here, because there’s nothing to criticize. Only praise.
The ace tore his Achilles running out of the batter’s box in April, only to miraculously return for the playoffs in a bullpen role.
And not only did he return, he returned in dominant fashion; he looked as sharp as ever in his few appearances back.
Look forward to seeing our ace back in action with our young guns next year. It’s gon’ be good.
So there we are; all of our relievers; the most unappreciated guys on the roster.
Hate them for their recent playoff performance or not, there’s no doubting they were incredible during the regular season. Now, time to see who’ll stay and who’ll go.
Feature photo by Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals Archive.