To me, the bullpen is always one of the more interesting areas to evaluate on a yearly basis, as it tends to be volatile and fluctuate on a yearly basis. Teams often promote or acquire releivers both in the offseason and in season. The Yankees for example, signed Aroldis Chapman during the offseason, and then traded for David Robertson during the season. Those guys, along with the rest of the Yankees dynamic bullpen, have that team banging on the World Series door.
As for the Cards, well going into the 2017 season, our big acquisition in the ‘pen was Brett Cecil, formerly a Blue Jay. Cecil signed for 4 years and 30.5 Million. I was skeptically of the signing when it happened, and a 2-4 record with a 3.88 era in 76 innings seems to have proved me right. Hopefully next year will be better for Cecil, but so far the signing looks like a mistake.
that sets the tone for the bullpen overall, as it was disappointing as a whole. Incumbent closer Sueng-hwan Oh was disappointing, getting 20 saves but posting a 4.10 era.
There was some good parts, like Trevor Rosenthal looking a little better this year, with 76 K’s in 47 innings (leading to a shiny K rate of 14.3 per 9 innings.) and not terrible 3.40 era. Rosie got injured though and had the dreaded Tommy John surgery, removing him from the equation until the middle of the 2018 season at earliest.
John Brebbia was also a nice surprise, with a 2.44 era in 50 games and 51.2 innings. He also had a respectable 8.9 K’s per 9 innings. He also made his debut at the age of 27 though, so if he was that good, why wasn’t he brought up earlier?
Another nice surprise was Juan Nicasio, who came over late in the season, and got 4 saves in a brief 11 inning cameo. Overall, combined between the Pirates and Cardinals, he had a 2.65 era in 72.1 innings and a K rate of 9 per 9 innings. 3017 was easily the best year of his career though, and he sports a career era of 4.55.
So what does all of this mean for 2018?
For starters, I’d remove Oh from the closer spot for good, and see if Nicasio can build off of last season. Slot Oh into middle relief and make him earn a setup spot. Put Brebbia into a setup role.
I’d slot either Tyler Lyons or Sam Tuivailala In the second setup spot and use the other guy as our use more often middle reliever, and mix and match with the rest of the bullpen.
As for free agency, well, after the Brett Cecil disaster, I’d be reluctant to go that route.
Greg Holland is interesting, but he faded in the second half and ended the season with a 3.61 era. Coors Field or not, that’s high for a closer. plus he is no spring chicken at the age of 31 and missed the entire 2016 season due to injury.
I’d pass on Holland and stick with our internal options. We don’t want another Cecil fiasco.
As always, thanks for reading.