The NL Central has turned into a winnable division for every team not based out of Cincinnati, OH mostly because the Cubs have not been very good (but let’s save that for another post) and the Pirates are having Drug and Alcohol Problems (I’m looking at you Kang and Marte). This means that the 5 GB Cardinals have a chance to come away with a playoff birth in 2017. In fact, considering their strong offensive base, if it were not for their horrendous Bullpen, they might be up their with the Brewers for the division lead. The fact of the matter is that the Cardinals have lost 16 games in which they have at one point led by 2 or more runs, good for worst in Franchise history. So what’s the problem and how can John Mozeliak address it.
The Bullpen is not entirely disgusting becuase Oh and Rosenthal have more than serviceable this year. They rank in the middle of the pack in WPA at 14th at -.37, nowhere near as bad as Detroit’s -3.18. The core of a solid Bullpen is there, they just need help.
If you cannot tell from those charts, part of the problem has been the disappearance of Brett Cecil as an effective starter.
Cecil has gone from being extremely valuable to being exactly league average. It’s hard to tell if Cecil will even make a strong second half rebound considering what his Career BABIP looks like.
If the Cardinals want to make a push, they need to add to Oh and Rosenthal in order to give them a solid backend trio because the current set up won’t hold up over the season, let alone a post-season series.
Pat Neshek: 0.67 ERA 2.27 FIP 0.9WAR
Former St.Louis Cardinal has been electric for a practically dead Phillies team in 2017 and they will certainly look to move him. Considering his age and contract, it should not take much for Mozeliak to swing a deal
Brad Hand: 2.82 ERA 3.23 FIP 0.6 WAR
The Padres are known to be receiving calls on Hand and St.Louis should join that hunt. if If they make an offer way before the deadline, I’m sure the Padres would happy to accept. Hand would give the Cardinals a solid reliever with a couple of years of control, not mention giving them a litteral hand.
Jim Johnson: 3.34 ERA 2.15 FIP 1.0 WAR
Johnson is owed money (4.5M) in 201, making it a better investment for the Cardinal’s competitive window. Atlanta has a low need for proven MLB closers and could serve to donate his innings to one of their many Minor League Arms.