Cardinals Early Bullpen Success


Josh Calloni, Reporter

Through the first month of the MLB season, the Cardinals are 24-23, good for third in the NL Central. One of the strengths of the team so far has been the bullpen, and specifically four different relievers.

One of these pitchers highlighted is Giovanny Gallegos. Gallegos was acquired last July from the Yankees in the trade that sent Luke Voit to New York. After making two appearances up with the big club in 2018, Gallegos was thrusted into a more prominent role in 2019. Gallegos leads the team in strikeouts per nine innings, and also ranks sixth in the entire MLB in relievers. This puts him in the 99th percentile of that statistic. Gallegos also ranks highly among xBA and xwOBA. Cardinal veteran John Brebbia is another arm in the bullpen that has statistically shown well. Brebbia owns a 1.99 ERA, giving up only five runs, three of which came on the Mother’s Day loss the Pirates. Brebbia, like Gallegos, ranks highly in strikeout percentage, and has limited his exit velocity allowed.

“The Cardinals bullpen has been very good. Gallegos, Brebbia, Gant and Hicks have all combined to have very solid seasons and lock down the bullpen even further. If they can get Miller going they might have the best bullpen in baseball,” junior Ashton Ranney said.

Hard throwing closer Jordan Hicks has a similar ERA to Brebbia at 1.88. Hicks is a few notches behind Gallegos in the strikeout per nine percentile, as he qualifies in the top 97th percent, as he has struck out 20 hitters in 14.1 innings. Hicks makes up for that stat by leading the team in average fastball and sinker velocity, sitting at 100.9 miles per hour on average on the fast ball, and 100.8 on his sinker. Both of these also rank up top league wide, as Hicks beats Rays relievers Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado by two miles per hour in each.

The final statistical standout reliever on the Cardinals has been John Gant. The longtime starter converted into a reliever prior to this season, and has carried a 0.77 ERA through his first 23 innings pitched. That ranks 5th lowest in all of baseball, though he is tied for first with Ryan Pressly of the Astros for Left on Base Percentage, at 100 percent. That stat means he has left every runner he has inherited or put on, on base. Both runs that have scored off of Gant have come via a home run this season.

“If the Cardinals could get Miller and Leone going to join their big four in the bullpen they might just have the super bullpen they have been looking to get for so many years, with five lockdown relievers all working well simultaneously,” junior Therie Moore said.

While there are four relievers who have stood out in many league wide rankings, the bullpen includes seven relievers on any given day. Andrew Miller, the teams big bullpen signing this offseason, has carried a 5.02 ERA with a high home run and walk rate through his first 19 games, as his home run rate ranks 19th highest in all of baseball. Dominic Leone was knocked around for 15 runs in an eight game stretch, and his ERA of 8.20 not only ranks highest on the team, but 13th highest in all of baseball.

Finally, veteran righty Luke Gregerson has an ERA of 6.75, but has had a huge injury bug, only pitching in 21 games since signing on prior to the 2018 season. Gregerson has since been released.

However, the good seemingly balances out the bad, as the bullpen as a whole ranks upon the highest in all of baseball through the first 41 games of the season.