Home Baseball Assessing the Cardinals Needs – Bullpen

Assessing the Cardinals Needs – Bullpen

by Aaron Mullins

So I think it’s safe to say we as fans are pretty frustrated. Since sweeping the Cubs back in May, the Cardinals are 16-20…

That’s not going to get you to a playoff spot. Sweeping the Cubs was the thing the Cards needed to turn the corner, but instead they have fallen face first into the concrete.

Where do we go to improve this team?  Caleb Bonner recently posted an article with his thoughts on the subject. And I encourage you to check it out below.

Assessing the Cardinal’s Needs- Offense

Personally I think we should go a different route and address the bullpen. I mentioned on Twitter a similarity between this team and a former Cardinal team from recent memory.

Aaron Mullins on Twitter

STLCards comparison 2015: 100-62 2018: 88-74 (on Pace) Runs per game 2015: 3.99 2018: 4.25 Rotation ERA 2015: 2.99 2018: 3.11 Bullpen ERA 2015: 2.82 2018: 4.39 See the difference?

There is a glaring difference.

The offense while still not elite has actually averaged more runs per game than the team did in 2015. The thing I’d like to see more of is their consistency. I don’t want to see 12 runs one day just to get 1 and 2 the next two nights. The average is 5 runs per game, but unlikely they win all three games.

The rotation is easily the best part about this team. Since I posted this tweet, the rotation ERA has risen to 3.30 after Wacha gave up 7 earned runs in 4 innings against the Cubs. But they currently sit at 4th in the Majors in rotation ERA.

And then we get to the bullpen. Their current ERA has also risen up to 4.46 which is 24th in the Majors. Something needs to be done. But where do you start?

Personally I think Greg Holland’s days are numbered.  I was a big fan of bringing him in during the off-season but he has been nowhere near his former self. During his rehab stint he wasn’t any better. I’d love to see him bounce back because when he is right he is a force. But if he continues to struggle don’t be surprised to see the Cardinals cut ties with him.

Brett Cecil is another guy who is on the hot seat. His numbers last season weren’t as bad as some may think but he hasn’t improved in his limited outings in 2018. He still has two seasons left after this year concludes, but I’m not sure he will even be on the team come All-Star Break.

There are a few guys from last season who were productive that the Cardinals need to get right. Tyler Lyons has spent time on and off the DL and has yet to see the same bite he once had on his slider. John Brebbia has pitched well but has spent time riding the Memphis shuttle this season despite having an impressive 2017 campaign with the big club. Sam Tuivailala has also shown some signs of his 2017 season but still needs to turn the corner completely so that he can benefit this squad.

Aaron Mullins on Twitter

Current WAR for #STLCards bullpen pitchers Hicks: 0.9 (35.0 IP) Brebbia: 0.3 (23.1 IP) Tuivailala: 0.2 (19.1 IP) Mayers: 0.2 (19.1 IP) Norris: 0.2 (29.1 IP) Gomber 0.1 (7.1 IP) Cecil: -0.4 (10.0 IP) DL Leone: 0.0 Lyons: -0.3 Bowman: -0.4 Gregerson: -0.4 Holland: -0.9

Guys like Mayers, Gomber, and Hicks are beginning to see their first taste of the Major Leagues and have capitalized on it. Mayers had a couple spot starts over the past couple seasons but was ineffective but has turned his career around as a reliever.

Norris seems to have been a solid signing after all. He isn’t perfect but has been solid overall for the Cardinals, giving them a 9th inning man that they can count on.

I have to admit, as much as Bowman frustrates me, he has looked better since returning from the DL. He has been subject from over-use over the past couple seasons which could be a factor in his struggles.

But the question remains. How do with make this team better? Well they have a lot of talent in this bullpen. It’s true. But unfortunately for the Cardinals they are also struggling all at once. Giving a couple guys (Hicks, Norris) an impossible situation of having to mop up what has been left for them. You can’t blame all of their bullpen problems on Matheny either. He doesn’t have many options back there there they feel confident in. But there could be some good choices available at the deadline.

Zach Britton

The Orioles sit at 19-50 on the season. It’s safe to say they are sellers near the deadline. Britton has only two appearances on the season after returning from an Achilles injury, but has shown promising signs. He is a lefty that could really boost the Cardinals given struggles by Lyons and Cecil. I’m not sure what the Cardinals would have to give up but they would have to pay a lot simply based on reputation. I’ve seen people throw out trades involving both Britton and Machado from Baltimore, but I’m afraid of what we would have to give up to make that happen. He is a free agent after this season and would be a rental player and would could a high price during free agency.

Kelvin Herrera

If you haven’t noticed already, these players are on teams that are definitely out of contention. The Royals are 22-48 on the season and are last in the AL Central. Herrera has been one of the line bright spots sporting a 1.05 ERA and 14 saves in 25.2 innings. Herrera has been efficienct giving up just 2 walks on the season.  He is a free agent after this season wraps up which could lower his trade stock and come at a rather affordable rate. If the Cardinals are serious about winning, Herrera is a good option.

Brad Hand

A lot of people are high on this guy, but personally I don’t see it. I think he is a good pitcher, just not as good as we are meant to believe. He also plays for a team who is effectively awful. He is 1-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 21 saves on the season and is known for his ability to strikeout opposing hitters. He currently has a 13.2 K/9 rate which is one of the best in baseball. With Hand, you’d get a couple more years of team control, so if the Cardinals think he can help the team, at least he will be around longer.

I’m sure there are other players who could be available via trade but I think these guys are the best of realistic and also high reward signings. I’d personally go with Zach Britton but the worry is that he is a rental player.  What will the Cardinals do?  We will find out soon!

Thanks for Reading

Aaron M

Follow me on Twitter @AaronArchCity

Go check out my Cardinals related podcast @SuspectsMusial


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