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St. Louis Cardinals: Looking at the bullpen disaster

Platinum recording artist Drake once said, “I know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing.”

If that was any reference to the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen situation this season, then yes, the bullpen has been called upon more often than not.

However when that that bullpen phone rings, not only does it mean a reliever is coming on, it usually signifies a hotline disaster.

Simply put – the bullpen has been nothing short of horrendous this season.

Due to their mishaps, the Cardinals now stand at 2-6, 5th in the National League Central. Yes, I am giving you the standings two weeks into the season. Shut up and deal with it.

Back to the bullpen.

It’s like a game of Russian Roulette, except in the end, the entire team gets shot.

Collectively, the group has thrown 24.1 innings, with an earned run average of 8.14. Not good if you are a statistics geek.

The K’s per 9 isn’t where you’d want it to be either, only measuring in at a 6.66. Clearly we are cursed by the devil.

What is even worse is that the starting pitching has been probably the biggest strong point of the team thus far, and gives way to a weak gate that is letting the flood waters pour on in.

So with all that said, what and where are the fixes for this? Let’s take a look.

Not ALL of the bullpen has been atrocious

That 8.14 ERA does not really fall onto the shoulders of all eight gentlemen who sit out there in right field. Actually, when you look at the numbers, it really only falls onto about half of the bullpen.

I’m looking at you Kevin Siegrist, Jonathon Broxton, Brett Cecil, and Seung-Hwan Oh.

Between those four, all of them have ERAs over 12. Not going to win you any ball games.

Especially when three out of those four are supposed to be key guys in the eigth and ninth innings.

However like I was saying, not EVERYONE, has been terrible – guys like Miguel Socolovich and Matt Bowman have been really good (1.80, and 0.00 ERAs respectively) and they have pitched comparable inning counts.

Trevor Rosenthal is now back from the disabled list and looked really good in his only outing, striking out the side in that 14-6 shelacking the Cardinals took the other night in Washington.

Hell, say what you want, but even Sam Tuivailala (who is now back in AAA) has the same number of innings pitched as Brett Cecil right now and better numbers

So with all this being said, maybe guys like Bowman, Socolovich and Rosenthal start to grab the opportunities while the iron is hot.

Whose days are numbered?

If you have guys continuing to pitch as terrible as this, it is only a matter of time before someone gets shut down, traded, or sent to the minors.

So who are the candidates?

Look no further than Jonathon Broxton.

The Resident Fat Reliever – I was a believer in Golden Corral’s biggest spokesman, I even wrote an article about his usefulness.

He is no longer needed as an inning eater though, as the bullpen needs people who actually get outs, without giving up runs.

Broxton might be on the outside looking in, and unless he starts to prove that he can pitch and be effective, it might be time for one last run through the buffet line and to find work elsewhere.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jonathan Broxton plays catch during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Is anyone ready for a call up?

I will defer to my minor-league experts and fellow RedBird Daily writers John Nagel and Kyle Reis on this one, but if I am the Cardinals, I am slow with this for a couple of different reasons.

  1. Way too early to promote (outside of your usual suspects like Tuivailala) for a bullpen role.
  2. Nobody is really ready for that kind of exposure

But who exactly could be that prospect that could provide a bullpen lift come June/July timeframe?

Well you heard all about him in Spring Training, and you will continue to hear all about him throughout the season – Sandy Alcantara. 

Kid throws nothing but heat, and maybe what the St. Louis Cardinals need is another fireballer out of the pen.

You’ll remember that the Birds have had similar success with this reliever turned starter model of promotion (think Wainwright, Martinez, Reyes), and Alcantara could be on a similar path, if he continues to impress at the AA level.

The Cardinals also have a history of taking kids straight from AA and making them debut at the major league level. Think Rosenthal.

Yes it is early.

But it’s not like hitting where you wait for warmer months for the bats to warm up and start hitting – pitchers are supposed to have these things figured out when the season starts.

It would be different if it were just one or two players, but four or five guys – that’s a story. Hence why I wrote it.

Only time will tell if the bullpen figures it out or not – but we could be in for a long season if these hiccups continue…


Thanks for reading.


For more Drake references, Wednesday morning stories, and things I do on two cups of coffee, follow @TonOfClayton

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