In a Monday chat with readers, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch addressed the approach of the Cardinals front office to upgrading the team’s bullpen — a known priority for the club. In response to a question regarding potential interest in longtime Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, Goold suggested that, during the free agent bonanza that preceded the lockout, the Cards had looked less for a closer per se than at other ‘high-leverage’ arms — “ones who could be used as a closer, but not only a closer.”
The 2021 Cardinals bullpen finished roughly middle-of-the-pack in most statistical metrics (11th in ERA, 8th in FIP, 24th in xFIP, 11th in fWAR) and could see some significant improvements without making a move. High-octane righty Jordan Hicks, who new manager Oliver Marmol will stretch out for an expected multi-inning role in Spring Training, is reportedly healthy after missing most of 2021 with elbow inflammation; and Ryan Helsley, who was shut down in mid-August with knee and elbow issues, is expected to regain a primary set-up role alongside Genesis Cabrera. Giovanny Gallegos will likely retain the closer role he inherited from 2021 All-Star Alex Reyes following Reyes’ substantial second-half struggles.
Goold notes former Cardinal Joe Kelly as a likely target and had previously cited interest in former Blue Jays, Cubs, and White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera; both relievers fit the bill of a versatile, high K-rate late-innings arm. Each is likely to seek a multi-year deal with a meaningful financial commitment (MLBTR projects Tepera to sign for two years and $12MM, for instance), though neither is likely to exceed the Cardinals’ budget — particularly if they remain committed to some combination of Paul DeJong and Edmundo Sosa at shortstop. Potential targets Andrew Chafin and Collin McHugh fall in roughly the same market stratum as Tepera and Kelly, while the club could also look for bounce-back candidates on one-year or minor league deals. The list of free agent relievers with a history of big-league success but who won’t command a significant investment includes Brad Hand, Chris Martin, Archie Bradley, Adam Ottavino, Sergio Romo, Yusmeiro Petit, Mychal Givens, Sean Doolittle, Pedro Strop, Richard Rodriguez, and Tyler Clippard.
Beyond Gallegos, Cabrera, Reyes, Helsley, and Hicks, the Redbirds will return journeyman and 2021 revelation T.J. McFarland (who re-signed on a one-year, $2.5MM deal in November) as well as Kodi Whitley and potential long-man Jake Woodford. Current minor leaguers Andre Pallante (who posted a 3.91 ERA in 99 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, his age-22 season) and Jake Walsh (who’ll play at age 26 in 2022 but posted 2.86 ERA in 22 innings across the same levels) could also be asked to contribute at some point in 2022.
Should they add a high-leverage arm to what’s already a talented group, the Cards’ bullpen could prove a substantial strength in 2022, particularly if a starting rotation bolstered by the addition of Steven Matz can continue to eat innings at the pace it did in 2021 (the Cardinals’ bullpen covered 584 1/3 innings in 2021, 9th fewest in the majors). Indeed, St. Louis could showcase one of the National League’s deeper pitching staffs in 2022, particularly if Hicks and starter Jack Flaherty can both stay healthy and return to their respective 2019 forms. And though the Cardinals play in the comparatively soft NL Central, with a roughly league-average offense returning essentially intact from 2021, they’ll likely need their pitching staff to perform at a high level to return to the playoffs in 2022.
Archie Bradley feels like a very nice and logical fit for what the Cardinals are seeking. I hope they kick those tires.
Archie’s toast. Mediocre numbers last year that were only that good because of great luck on HR/FB. Disturbingly bad K numbers, which were a huge decline from his peak. Typically story of a high velo high effort high use reliever hitting his 30’s.
I actually think Archie comes back strong. I’d love him on the Phils again.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
I always thought Archie was a little overrated but I don’t think it’s impossible he bounces back.
Am I the only one who thinks Hicks trying a multi-inning role is just another injury waiting to happen? He already missed a bunch of time last season. I watched him pitch a game. His stuff was nasty but he was straining so hard to get that velo up to 105. He hit the IL again the next day. That guy either needs to pitch in short bursts like a 1 inning closer or stop trying to throw so freaking hard on every pitch. I personally think injuries are going to be very common for him if not derail his career altogether. Trying to squeeze more innings out of a guy who looks like he is close to injuring himself on almost every single pitch seems like the opposite direction they should take him. It looked to me like every time he threw the ball he was trying to break Aroldis Chapman’s fastest pitch record. I’m not going to lie. He’s probably the most likely pitcher to do it. He’s less than 2 mph away, but still… Am I the only one who thinks this guy will be plagued with arm injuries and having him pitch more innings will likely make that worse? Someone should tell him 101 or 102 is enough. No reason to make your arm explode just so you can say you hit 105 on the radar, right?
start the season, then we can talk and opine.
I support millionaires over billionaires.
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I support the fans over both millionaires and billionaires.
23 year old Freddy Pacheco was added to the 40 man roster and pitched 54 innings with 95 strikeouts from A+ to AAA
I was looking at his numbers the other day and did a double take at that K rate. I don’t know much about the guy but it seems like he could be a valuable bullpen piece as soon as next season.
Joe Kelly is overrated.
* overrated (thanks)
I don’t know of many who rate him all that highly, though. And he can be quite dominant when he’s on.
This article is specific to the Cardinals rating Kelly as a “high leverage” reliever. Like they did with Brett Cecil, the Cardinals are overrating Kelly’s skill set and potential impact as a Cardinal. Excessive optimism leads to ineffective evaluations.
Joe Kelly has something this team needs,a set of stones and a red ass! For the love of Bob Gibson!!!! Sign him just for a guy like that which every good Cardinal team in the past has had!
Sounds like Craig Kimbrel to me. Trade de Jong somewhere to free salary space, Kimbrel to St Louis, a lefty 2B or RF to the White Sox. Make it happen!
Actually, with the Sox needing a 2B, you could probably start a trade around those 2 names.
As a Sox fan, I’ve been saying I want them to trade Kimbrel for whatever (should be able to dump his salary if you don’t get much in return), go sign Conforto, and then I’m ok with them going for Simmons (improve defense up the middle) or Iglesias to play 2B and hit 9th.
Would have to be a 3-way. Don’t think it will be lost on the White Sox that it kills all of de Jong’s value to play him anywhere but SS.
wait until the end of spring training so Hendricks isn’t hurt.
Never haven enough pitching.
What a revelation.
Then again, don’t most mlb teams looks for bullpen help this time of year.
How does a bullpen finish 8th in FIP but 24th in xFIP? Was the Cardinals bullpen really that good and preventing HRs? It’s a strange metric when you are trying to predict HR/FB ratios and ‘penalize’ a bullpen for letting up less HRs than the rest of the league.
The ratio of HR’s to fly balls is thought to be, to a considerable but not entire degree, luck-based. Especially in small samples like one season.
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And especially if the pitcher plays half his games in a small ballpark.
@dorothy_mantooth it has a lot to do with busch, especially during june to sep. the humidity gets really thick in stl and for some reason the ball just doesn’t carry in busch.
High humidity during the summer may make balls travel less distance, but that’s cancelled by the opposite effect caused by the summer heat. Overall, Busch III is merely a slight pitcher’s park.
@lanidrac that my be true but humidity gets really bad here in the summer and it doesn’t help that the mississippi is only a few blocks from busch. just trust me on the humidity in summer months just stepping outside for a few mins your covered in sweat, also ownership has been looking into modding the fences to make the park more balanced.
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I do not know how much high humidity has to do with it,but probably some.Doubt that air resistance has ever been tested with this in mind.
I do not understand how heat alone would affect the distance a ball travels,other than tiring the pitchers out more quickly.
Heat combined with a nearby water source,especially during seasonal periods of general high humidity,may have a reasonably high affect.
I am no meteorologist but this is based on my knowledge.
If Busch is a slight pitcher’s park, then they should avoid hefty pitchers built like Colon.
@mendoza i’m not one either my theory is based on my experiences living and working outside in the summer in stl. air is very thick and trying to cut drywall is a pain because it starts soaking up all the moisture in the air and i’m sure a baseball has the same issues given that the materials that make one up is leather and thread.
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Good point.You are saying that the ball is also “duller” and not as hard because of the water in the air.I was thinking that the air was slightly “ thicker”.Maybe both apply.
Maybe that is why Wainwright never wants to leave!
Warm air is thinner, so the ball travels further. Higher elevation air is thinner, so Denver…Dry air makes the ball travel further, so the humidors in Denver, Phoenix are designed to combat that.
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I understand about Denver.I had forgotten about the Phoenix humidors.Brodie’s point was that if affects the ball moisture,which if lessened,makes the ball harder.Warm air then is thinner,and may work in both ways.Hence the humidor.
@gbs42 that is true warmer air is thinner but thanks to an avg humidity of 80+ during the summer it pretty much negates the thinness of the air. i also wouldn’t be surprised if petco has very similar issues being right by the coast but i can’t speak on that because i haven’t spent any time out there and experienced there summers myself.
B-Ref rates Busch III as a 91-92 for park factor, which actually makes it better for pitchers than San Diego (92-93).
And ESPN’s park factors has St. Louis as 31st out of 34 parks. Maybe I’m missing something, but generally, St. Louis has been a very pitcher friendly park. THat’s a big part of why the St. Louis offense has probably been so mediocre the last few years despite getting players like Arenado and Goldschmidt (and even the fast that perhaps Carpenter could’ve maybe still hit 20-30 bombs if he’d have been in a hitter friendly park, instead of being completely ineffective.
@matt do you have a link to that, just wanna know where espn got 34 parks, last i checked there are only 30 teams not 34
The Mariners will surely be trading one or two RP’s who pitched in high leverage situations – Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, maybe Diego Castillo or Casey Sadler. The price has to be right of course, for the M’s to consider moving any of those pieces.
The M’s will likely move one of the back end RP’ers because Ken Giles should be ready for 2022. They have Andres Muñoz – a young RP with a 103-104mph FB, raw but talented Yohan Ramirez and a number of young SP prospects who should transition to relief work- Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, Margevicius and possibly even Matt Brash.
The point is the Org will try to fill some roster needs by dealing from an obvious position of strength- the BP and a Top 3 MLB farm system. It will be interesting to see if St Louis and Seattle can make another trade. This time maybe St Louis can send a Hitter for one or two of Seattle’s Pitchers.
Bolstering your rotation by signing Steven Matz is just as absurd as saying you loaded your lineup by signing Darin Erstad. I know he had a nice year last year, and I was rooting for him, but cmon now. He’s the dictionary definition of average and inconsistent.
Average is all he needs to be with the St. Louis infield defense gobbling up all his ground balls.
cards don’t really need high k type pitchers, what they need are pitchers that create weak hit balls and give up very few walks. with how busch plays towards pitchers and one of the best defenses in all of mlb marx is a prefect fit.
The dirty birds are a shell of an organization
That’s a strange description for a team that has won 2 Championships and 4 Pennants in the last 2 decades, makes the playoffs pretty consistently including the last 3 seasons, and hasn’t had a losing season since 2007.
Last championship 11 years ago, last pennant 9 years ago. Got bounced early the last 3 years. Still wanna try to use the past?
Just for our knowledge how many other teams have accomplished what Lanidrac said? And what has your team accomplished Daniella?
Is this the subject of your post graduate work at clown college?
Angels & NL West
I would love to see the Angels sign Tepera and McHugh, but they will have plenty of competition from the Cardinals and many others.
Kimbrel for DeJong. Done.
De Jong as a 2B is utterly worthless. Literally the only thing he has is his spectacular defense at short. No way the White Sox do that. However, if they involve a SS needy third team like the Astros, Yankees, Rockies, Phillies, etc, there’s definitely something there.
I read De Jong was recently working 5 days a week with Lorenzo Garmendia. The hitting instructor who recently helped Willy Adames. LG has also worked with JD Martinez and Mookie Betts. It will be interesting to see if De Jong improves this year.
White Sox don’t want Dejong. Kimbrel only closer. No good to bring in with runners already on. White Sox will find a taker but will not recoup 2nd baseman of any real value.
Loved Joe Kelly the man as a Dodger fan. He stood up for his team. But, he was hard to watch. A loss of control could happen at any moment. When that happens he can’t throw any pitch consistently.
Of course when he has on he just mowed them down.
So, good guy, good reliever, a little scary to watch.
Bottom line he can help the cards.
I hate the Cardinals.
Cool story, bro.
What would you do if you really found something or someone to hate? They’re just a baseball team. Sports entertainment. Nothing to hate.
Nobody cares. You’re probably a chubs fan knowing you’ll have to wait another 108 years.
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Or just a simple troll just trying to get a reaction out of Cardinals fans.
Kelly is a high leverage toung-sticker-outer. not a high leverage BP arm.
If that’s in reference to head hunting the Astros in 2020? That was the only time I’d seen him wag the tongue in such fashion, but still not worth getting suspended for more games than the entire Astros team did? I’d keep my tongue in my mouth next time if I were him?
The twins Starting rotation is Peggy Bundy… and 4 guys that in 5 years you’ll likely not know.. and the bullpen is in about the same condition..
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Some old guy-You raise two important points.
And this has what to do with the Cardinals bullpen?
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Nothing.I was addressing the twins and Peggy Bundy.
the statement was made on here that every team was looking for high leverage arms .. I was expounding on that statement..
Ted Bundy? Better than John Wayne Gacy for a starter, reason being he ate the entire minor league team? Hard to field a winning product with him around
@hippy do you mean jeff the chef (jeff dhomer) instead of gacy, jeff was the one who ate his victims gacy brutally killed his victims and then buried them under the house
I don’t see Kelly or Givens as the best fit. Cardinals set records for # of bases loaded walks are are making a conscious effort to change that trend. I would be surprised if they pay 1+Mill deal on anyone with more than. 3.0bb/9. Notice how quickly they re-signed Mcfarland despite his middling career numbers. He throws strikes. Aaron Brooks? Again, throws strikes.
Jansens bb/9 last year skyrocketed from usually low 2 to 4.7. That is worrisome
I mean, who isn’t looking for high-leverage bullpen arms?!
Good time to wait it out. Salary cap and floor like the other major sports. Sacrifice the 2022 season if needed.
Kelly and/or Ottavino make a lot of sense. I could see Jansen as i don’t really think the Dodgers are all that interested in bringing him back
The Cardinals greatly missed healthy Ryan Helsley in 2021. Getting him back and numbers closer to his 2019 performance would go a long way to helping out the bullpen. Jordan hicks as well, but they are talking about using him as a starter? I don’t like the Cardinals spending millions on bullpen arms recently
All DeJong has to do is return to his career numbers before 2020, which I don’t count. He was messed up for sure in 2021, but look for a comeback. He is a very bright guy!
If they sign a ground ball pitcher they have a great gloves in the Diamond to save those runs
I’d love for them to bring back Joe Kelly. He’s gritty and he’d bring a toughness to this team that it lacks.