The Cardinals must re-sign Juan Nicasio

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The St. Louis Cardinals failed to reach the postseason for the second season in a row. Don’t be fooled, playing meaningful games in September isn’t that big of a deal. Rather, competing deep into the playoffs (on a consistent basis) is expected. If the organization wants to get back to doing that, they simply must improve the 25-man roster going into 2018. Say what you want about the manager, but barring an unexpected development, he will be back next season. The new pitching coach will undoubtedly play a role in the team’s future success (or failure), but improvements to the 25-man roster should be considered the offseason’s top priority.

Thus, the 31-year-old Juan Nicasio — who performed nearly flawlessly upon his arrival in St. Louis — must be re-signed. With the tendering of a contract to Trevor Rosenthal up in the air (due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery) and the almost certain departure of the no-longer-effective Seung Hwan Oh, the back-end of the bullpen requires serious bolstering. Fortunately, the Cardinals had a firsthand look for an entire month of one of the most desirable options in Nicasio. Beyond September — in which he posted a 1.46 ERA — his 2017, as a whole, ranked quite well among his peers:

2017 Statistics

Nicasio Stats.PNG

Honestly, I could stop here in my explanation as to why Nicasio is a must-sign, but that’d be boring (and downright lazy). Rather, I have chosen to take a closer look at Nicasio’s repertoire, in an attempt to understand why he was so successful this season. First and foremost, it doesn’t hurt that his fourseamer — which he threw 71.3% of the time — averaged 95.75 MPH in 2017. While this isn’t Aroldis Chapman-type velocity, it isn’t by any means slow. He coupled the heater with a hard slider (averaging 88.91 MPH) 26.01% of the time.

Further, I strongly believe he possesses untapped potential with the changeup. The pitch clocks in similarly to the slider at 87.96 MPH but carries a considerably different movement profile. From a tunneling perspective, the pitch matches up perfectly with his most-frequently-thrown fourseamer. Bottom line, the changeup is a pitch I’d want the new pitching coach to work on with Nicasio should he ultimately re-sign.

If a pitch is thrown 71.3% of the time — as is the case with Nicasio’s fourseamer — it must be pretty good. And Nicasio’s was as it led to whiffs on 25% of swings in 2017 (an unusually high rate for a fourseamer), and opposing hitters managed only a .216 batting average (and .123 isolated power) against it. He was better than league average in both exit velocity (87.6 MPH versus 88.2 MPH) and launch angle (10.7° versus 15.8°), as well.

Two-strike fourseamer location (after joining the Cardinals)

Nicasio FB location.jpg

As you can see, with two strikes, Nicasio possesses enough confidence in his fourseamer to keep it within the strike zone. While most pitchers aim to have hitters expanding their zones with two strikes, this doesn’t appear to be the case with Nicasio, and this includes his time prior to becoming a Cardinal as well. Further, his confidence in his stuff went beyond just two strikes as his overall zone percentage of 51.5% ranked seventh highest among qualifying MLB relievers. For perspective, Greg Holland — another Cardinal target this offseason — posted a zone percentage of just 45.9%. Give me the pitcher with the higher zone percentage (but also comparable overall numbers) every single time.

And no, the fourseamer isn’t limited to only two-strike success, either. In fact, when you include pitchers (both starters and relievers) with at least 30 balls in play on fourseamers up, but still inside the strike zone, Nicasio ranked 17th best in MLB with a .199 wOBA (wOBA primer found here). Even better, his xwOBA (or expected wOBA) was even stingier at .169 — tied for 7th best in baseball.

No pitching analysis article is complete without the work of the great @cardinalsgifs. Let’s go beyond my words by utilizing visual documentation behind Nicasio’s 2017 success:

Strikes one and two to Javier Baez (BrooksBaseball At Bat)

Twitter Ready

via @cardinalsgifs

Given the usual incredibly small sample, I don’t typically put much stock in pitcher-hitter matchups. That being said, Baez had owned Nicasio prior to this at bat, recording six hits (four singles, one double, and one home run) in 10 plate appearances. Nicasio didn’t allow past failures to get in the way with his September Cardinals’ mojo. Instead, he attacked Baez down and away for called strikes one and two. As you can see, he throws the slider so hard that it actually tunnels quite well with his fourseamer (important to consider if, but hopefully when, he works on his changeup). Even if Baez would have swung at either of these two pitches, he wasn’t going to make solid, meaningful contact.

Strike three to Javier Baez (BrooksBaseball At Bat)

Baez  K).gif

via @cardinalsgifs

After missing down, away, and in the dirt on pitch number three — subsequently training Baez’s eyes for a pitch down (a 93.1 MPH slider) — Nicasio blows him away with an up-and-in, 97.5 MPH fourseamer for strike three. Look no further than Nicasio’s reaction to understand the filthiness of this approach.

Ball one to Brett Phillips (BrooksBaseball At Bat)

Brewers - Pitch 10 Only.gif

via @cardinalsgifs

After inducing a swinging strike one and a called strike two — both on fourseamers up and away — Nicasio absolutely nails the up and inside corner with a 95 MPH sinker. Unfortunately, the umpire was as locked up as the hitter and didn’t pull the trigger on a called strike three. The ability to paint up and in with a similar pitch to the one you threw on the two pitches prior is a skill not many pitchers have. Nicasio certainly has this skill, and it is a large reason why his fourseamer possesses such a high swing and miss rate.

Strikes one and two to Ian Happ (BrooksBaseball At Bat)

Happ pitch 3&4- FB.gif

via @cardinalsgifs

Even when Nicasio missed his spot — as he did on both of these fourseamers — he still experienced success by going up in the zone. In the GIF prior, I showed his ability to go up and in to lefties — after showing his ability to go up and in to righties. Here, he shows that he is capable of blowing it past lefties on fourseamers up and away. From an effective velocity stand point, you lose a couple MPH on pitches away versus pitches in, so this speaks highly to Nicasio’s raw velocity.

Strike three to Addison Russell (BrooksBaseball At Bat)

RUSSELL - K Pitch.gif

via @cardinalsgifs

And just in case you wondering, Nicasio can experience success down in the zone as well. After attacking Russell up on the three pitches prior, Nicasio absolutely paints the down and outside corner with a 98.4 MPH fourseamer. Russell stood zero chance on this strikeout.

Bottom Line

Yes, the 2018 Cardinals need a lot more help than just one pitcher for the back end of the bullpen. That being said, I hope you now understand just how important Nicasio is for the Cardinals’ future plans. It would not be wise to enter next season solely reliant on young arms like Sam Tuivailala and Sandy Alcantara. Re-signing Nicasio would be a good start to a hopefully active winter. Pair him with a pitching coach like Jim Hickey, and he just may perform even better than he did this season. While I wholeheartedly understand frugality when it comes to the signing of relief pitchers, this was thrown out the window with Cecil’s contract. Nicasio is an absolute must-sign. Get it done, Michael Girsch and John Mozeliak.

As always, credit to @cardinalsgifs, BrooksBaseball.net, and BaseballSavant.com for their invaluable contributions to this post.

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I’m Back! Let’s Talk Some Baseball Before the Season Gets Going

CupofJoe

Dearest stlCupofJoe readers,

I know it has been a little while since I have written over here, but with Opening Day for the St. Louis Cardinals less than one week away, I figured I should check in with you all and let you know what I have been up to lately in the Cardinals blogosphere.

First and foremost, I have written a ton of posts over at Viva El Birdos since you heard from me last, and I really hope you have been able to check them out. If not, I will include links to five of the posts that I really enjoyed writing, including two that were reference by Bernie Miklasz (scroll to the bottom) of the St. Louis Post Dispatch (also near the bottom).

1. Should We Think Twice About Aledmys Diaz?

2. VEB Knowledge Nest: Cortisone Shots

3. Cardinals Sign Cuban Infielder Aledmys Diaz

4. Allen Craig hitting analysis, including a look at his 2013 “power outage”

5. Adam Wainwright’s curveball usage in 2013

Enough about my writing, let’s talk about something we can participate in together now that the season is about to begin–fantasy baseball. I already participate in a season-long league on Yahoo! with some other Cardinals bloggers, but that can get long and tedious.

Well, I have been seeing ample amounts of FanDuel commercials all over TV the past few weeks, and it really sparked my attention. FanDuel provides fans with a chance to play in one-day fantasy sports leagues which is pretty awesome for someone with a busy schedule like me. Thus, let’s play some one-day fantasy baseball together this season. Email me at stlcupofjoe [at] yahoo [dot] com if you are interested, and we can figure it out together. I look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. Who wouldn’t want to try out a product when they directly respond to you on Twitter without even asking them their opinion?

Until next time…

I really hope all of you are doing well and hope to hear from you over at Viva El Birdos sometime soon!

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

Viva El Birdos: Interview with St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Joe Kelly

GIF Credit: MLB GIFS

GIF Credit: MLB GIFS

As most of you already know, I have moved my blogging ability over to SB Nation’s Viva El Birdos.

Don’t worry, I am still known as stlCupofJoe over there as well. That is something I hope I am able to retain for the entirety of my blogging “career.”

I am so grateful for the amount of opportunities I have had since joining Viva El Birdos. I have been able to interview many of the Cardinals top prospects: Lee StoppelmanKurt Heyer, Joe Cuda, Alex Reyes, Carson Kelly, Rob Kaminsky, and Oscar Mercado. I still have interviews set to publish on Marco Gonzales and Randal Grichuk later this week. If you have missed any of the above interviews or just would like to read them again, feel free to check them out by clicking on the player’s name.

Each one of those interviews have been absolutely awesome. However, I am writing this post to bring your attention to the biggest interview I have had in my short blogging career. I was able to exchange questions and answers with St. Louis Cardinals hybrid pitcher, Joe Kelly, and the link to that interview can be found here. I can assure you that this interview is in the “must-read” category for all Cardinals fans because some of his answers are absolutely priceless.

Also, I am in charge of managing the site’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, so if you have accounts on either of those, make sure to give us a follow or a like:

You can follow us on Twitter: @vivaelbirdos or Facebook: Viva El Birdos.

Thank you so much for your continued support, and I hope you have continued to follow me at my new location.

Go Cards!

Recap: My First Week at Viva El Birdos

CupOfJoe_Opt2b

As most of you already know, I have officially taken my blogging to Viva El Birdos, SB Nation’s Cardinals site. If you have not been able to keep up with my posts from this week, I have provided a comprehensive list (including links) below. Some players I took a look at include Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Shelby Miller, Lee Stoppelman, and MLB Draft prospect, Kodi Medeiros.

1. My Introductory Post with Viva El Birdos

2. What should we expect from Yadier Molina’s hitting in 2014?

3. Have Matt Holliday’s hitting zone patterns changed with age?

4. Exclusive at Viva El Birdos: Interview with Kodi Medeiros. 2014 Draft Prospect

5. The numbers behind Shelby Miller’s four-seam fastball

6. Interview with pitching prospect, Lee Stoppelman

For the time being, I will compose pieces like this one as my readers make the transition over to Viva El Birdos along with me.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

Thank You from stlCupofJoe

Photo Credit: SB Nation's Viva El Birdos

Photo Credit: SB Nation’s Viva El Birdos

Beloved readers,

As I write this post, I am feeling a lot of different emotions. I started this blog last May out of love for the game of baseball and especially the St. Louis Cardinals. Given the fact that I had not written anything in four years (since my high school days at SLUH), I was floored by the support I received from each and every one of you. To be honest, I thought I was going to start blogging, write for a few months, and annoy the heck out of my few readers. Then, I would see the “writing on the wall,” quit blogging, and stick to being the “super fan” I’ve been for much of my life.

Thankfully, this did not end up being the case. Daniel Shoptaw, who can be found at C70 At the Bat of The Cards Conclave, welcomed me into the United Cardinal Bloggers community. Here, I gained readers who were not just my family and friends. Thus, I had to actually write good content if I wanted to keep people coming back to read more. This was important to me because I knew my family and friends would say my content was good (even if it wasn’t) just because they cared about me. It was even more meaningful hearing from people I have never met saying they read almost every post I wrote.

During my time with stlCupofJoe, I was able to do many things that I would have never imagined doing. I interviewed Cardinal prospects (James Ramsey, Jordan Swagerty, Kurt Heyer, and Carson Kelly). I interviewed Cardinal scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz, who was extremely thoughtful in his responses and has been an invaluable resource ever since. I interviewed great baseball mind, Dan Szymborski, and MLB insider prodigy, Chris Cotillo.

I thank all the people I worked with and collaborated with along the way, especially John Nagel of CardinalsFarm and Corey Rudd of STL Sports Minute. We have talked Cardinals baseball so much in the past eight months. Probably too much, but who can blame us? Cardinals baseball is a wonderful thing. They gave me topics to explore, critiqued my work, and helped me gain traffic on my site.

All writing/blogging aside, I will be forever grateful for my cousin, Christine Kenney, who was the genius behind the creation of my logo (can be seen at the top of this page). Christine volunteered and created four different choices for me within a few hours. She is absolutely amazing at what she does, and like I said I will be forever thankful. The logo she made has since been turned into t-shirts, business cards, flyers, notebooks, and much much more (thanks to my sister, Julie).

No, I’m not finished writing just yet. You can’t get rid of me that easily. Instead, I have taken my posts to Viva El Birdos, SB Nation’s Cardinals website. I have written two posts so far:

1. What should we expect from Yadier Molina’s hitting in 2014?
2. Have Matt Holliday’s hitting zone patterns changed with age?

This is not good bye. Partially because I hate good byes, and partially because I hope you find yourself checking out my posts in their new location. Feel free to make an SB Nation account and join in the conversation in the comments section.

Finally, as with anything, I have absolutely no idea what the future holds. I will be keeping my domain, http://www.stlcupofjoe.com, open in case I ever have anything non-Cardinal-baseball related to write about–such as the Butler Bulldogs, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, St. Louis sports, or life in general. I hope to write at SB Nation for years to come, but if this turns out to not be the case, I will return here to write more Cardinal content.

Thank you so much. Your continued support truly means so much to me.

Until next time…

Joe

To keep up with my posts or if you just to interact, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

Trevor Rosenthal Brings the Heat

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

St. Louis, and much of the Midwest, is cold right now. Really cold. With six to twelve inches of snow falling across the area today and below zero temperatures expected tomorrow, I figured it was a perfect time to write about Cardinals’ flame-throwing closer, Trevor Rosenthal.

Have you ever taken the time to look at the raw data of his pitching in 2013? I glanced at it in a previous blog post, but that was mid-season when he was still the set-up man, so let’s see how he progressed as the season went along.

Let’s face it. With the way the weather is outside, our minds are craving baseball. However, unfortunately, it is still over a month away till Spring Training. I will start by taking a look at Rosenthal’s phenomenal outing on October 12th in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers and then move on to his numbers from the season as a whole.

Game 2 of the NLCS:

Yasiel Puig At-Bat: Strikeout on 7 straight fastballs (pitch locations below)

RosenthalPuig

Photo Credit: BrooksBaseball.net

Pitch 1: 97.4 MPH fastball
Pitch 2: 98.2 MPH fastball
Pitch 3: 98.8 MPH fastball
Pitch 4: 99.6 MPH fastball
Pitch 5: 99.3 MPH fastball
Pitch 6: 97.8 MPH fastball
Pitch 7: 98.6 MPH fastball
Average: 98.5 MPH

This at-bat consisted of seven straight fastballs which can be damning to some pitchers. However, with pitches ranging from 97.4 MPH to 99.6 MPH, Rosenthal can afford throwing this many in a row, as long as he locates them well. Throughout much of the regular season and especially the playoffs, hitters knew what to expect from Rosenthal–a fastball. To combat this, Rosenthal did exactly what I just noted, changing location consistently–up-down-in-out–throughout the Puig at-bat.

When the seventh pitch rolled around, Puig had a pretty good idea it was going to be a fastball, but he had no clue on its location–leading to a good ole backwards K. Puig had a .315 batting average and a .519 slugging percentage against fastballs this season, but those most definitely weren’t Rosenthal-like fastballs.

Juan Uribe At-Bat: Strikeout on 4 straight fastballs (pitch locations below)

Photo Credit: BrooksBaseball.net

Photo Credit: BrooksBaseball.net

Pitch 1: 99.8 MPH fastball
Pitch 2: 99.0 MPH fastball
Pitch 3: 99.1 MPH fastball
Pitch 4: 99.4 MPH fastball
Average: 99.3 MPH

An average of 99.3 MPH? That’s not even fair. Two of the four pitches (pitches 3 and 4 of the at-bat) resulted in whiffs. Uribe was a .315 hitter against fastballs in 2013, but as I noted, a Rosenthal fastball is in a whole different class–an elite class shared by very few pitchers in the league.

Andre Ethier At-Bat: Strikeout on 3 fastballs (pitch locations below)

Photo Credit: BrooksBaseball.net

Photo Credit: BrooksBaseball.net

Pitch 1: 98.5 MPH fastball
Pitch 2101.2 MPH fastball
Pitch 3: 98.9 MPH fastball
Average: 99.5 MPH

As if the 99.5 MPH average wasn’t enough, Rosenthal changed Ethier’s eye-level on all three pitches–the first pitch being down in the zone, second one up in the zone, and then finished him off with one near the middle of the zone. Ethier swung and missed on all three, and if I remember correctly, he looked pretty foolish on each one. With pitch number two coming in at 101.2 MPH, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was his fastest all season.

2013 As a Whole:

velocities

As you can see in the table to the right, Rosenthal’s velocity was pretty consistent all season. If anything, he ramped it up a little bit as the season went along. The 10 MPH difference between his fastball and changeup will be devastating for years to come, especially as he gains confidence in his secondary pitches.

I know Rosenthal has made it clear he wants a shot in the starting rotation. Mike Matheny and Derek Lilliquist just may give him the opportunity this spring. However, I legitimately believe he will go down as one of the best in the game if he stays in the closer role and is able to stay healthy. He is only 23 years old. His fastball is already elite. We all know this. However, his secondary pitches, especially his changeup, have also shown flashes of brilliance as well. With Rosenthal’s work ethic, I expect him to have these pitches fine-tuned and ready to go next season.

Sorry, Major League hitters. You are in for quite the treat for years to come.

Follow Rosenthal on Twitter: @TrevRosenthal

Stay warm, my friends.

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe or Facebook: stlCupofJoe’s Sports Page

As usual, all pitching data was received from BrooksBaseball.net. If this is of interest to you, check the site out for yourself. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

A Role for Carlos Martinez (by Jared Simmons)

guest post by Jared Simmons. You can find him on Twitter: @McGeeTriples.

.gif credit: SB Nation

.gif credit: SB Nation

The glut of young, power arms possessed by the St. Louis Cardinals has been well documented. Some fans have called for the organization to maximize the value of their assets and relieve the rotation’s logjam through a trade. However, I have always believed the old cliché about never having too much pitching. So, how then, can the Cardinals get the most value out of all their young arms when they can’t all fit into a five-man rotation?

Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, and Michael Wacha are locks for the rotation with Jaime Garcia, if healthy and effective following shoulder surgery, destined to be in the mix as well. That leaves Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Martinez vying for the final starting spot. There’s been talk from John Mozeliak himself about C-Mart potentially starting the year in AAA if he cannot crack the big-league rotation. This line of thinking is very pragmatic and follows the conventional wisdom. But I believe that there’s another, less conventional way for Carlos to dramatically impact the Cardinals season without 1) being in the starting rotation or 2) being the “eighth inning guy.”

The odds of Martinez beating Kelly or Lynn out for the 5th and final rotation spot appear slim and honestly, seem undesirable. Where can Martinez impact the game the most? I would argue that the gap in production between any of these three in the 5th starter role would be negligible over the long season. Further, the 5th starter is unlikely to see a start in postseason play and therefore asked to step into a role that he has not performed in all season. I want Carlos Martinez to pitch early and to pitch often when the postseason rolls around.

The late-inning relief roles are stocked with good pitchers. Trevor Rosenthal, Jason Motte, and Kevin Siegrist are flame-throwers and should be able to hold down the fort in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings pretty efficiently. As a result of these surpluses the Cardinals have the luxury of breaking the mold or returning to the old mold–if you prefer–and using Carlos Martinez and his electric arm as a super reliever.

Let’s define “super reliever” for the purposes of this blog post: a super reliever is a relief pitcher whose role is not tied to a particular inning. Today, closers pitch the 9th and setup men pitch the 7th or the 8th innings. If anything different is asked of these players, they lose or their agents lose their minds on their behalf. Saves and holds earn dollars.

Meanwhile, games are lost in the 5th inning when a starter loses his mojo and gets in a jam. Or the sixth with the bases loaded and a two run lead, does the manager call the bullpen for his best guy knowing that this is the confrontation that will likely determine the outcome of the game?

No.

Instead, the manager calls for Seth Manness. Or Fernando Salas. Or Maikel Cleto. When this happens, the odds of losing the game skyrockets—all because the manager is paralyzed by fear and handcuffed by convention.

The “super reliever” eliminates this scenario because his role is to put out the fire whenever the flame sparks. The super reliever is just like the closer—only more flexible, more durable, and more valuable. If the game is on the line in the 6th, this man (Carlos Martinez) will slam the door. If Trevor Rosenthal has pitched 3 straight days, Carlos Martinez will save the game without breaking a sweat. If a game goes into extra innings and all other bullpen options are exhausted, the super reliever will go 3 innings, shut the door, and send the crowd at Busch home happy.

The super reliever is also not tied to an arbitrary one-inning limit. He pitches as needed, and gives way when the situation dictates that he should. And because he’s not tied to an inning or a particular situation, he is free to do this—as tomorrow the setup men and the closer will still be there to do the overrated, overvalued, and overpriced task of coming into their predefined inning with a 3 run lead, no one on base, and retiring the opposing 7, 8, and 9 hitters for the 29th best team in baseball.

The super reliever is the leverage reliever. The man to pitch anywhere, anytime as long as the outcome hangs in the balance. The bullpen arm who can count for two roster spots and determine the difference between winning and losing.

For the Cardinals, this man is or rather should be Carlos Martinez with his electric fastball and devastating slider. A man with a reliever’s arm and a starter’s stamina. His career ahead lies in the rotation, but for now, with the excess of young arms already on the roster, his most potential impact is in this unconventional role I just described.

I believe Carlos Martinez has a rare gift in his right arm. In my view, C-Mart has the stuff to become a legendary figure in the annals of Cardinal pitching lore – if only he is able to refine his command and remain healthy. As such, I hope the Cardinals will utilize him in as many game-deciding situations as possible. With the traditional bullpen roles in good hands and the long-relief/mop-up role being handled by the odd man out of the rotation (Lynn or Kelly) the most efficient way to capitalize on C-Mart’s talent will be in the same way that old school closers were used: 100-120 innings of flame-throwing, season-defining, high-leverage relief.

Shortening the bullpen with C-Mart in this manner does a lot of things for the Cardinals:

• It allows the greatest number of the team’s bullpen innings to be pitched by the team’s best pitchers.

• Gives Manager Mike Matheny the ability to ration the workloads of Motte, Siegrist, Rosenthal, and even Seth Maness (whom Matheny loves for some reason). This is important because for the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals, the goal is winning a World Series. And NOT in the same way that it’s the goal for every team in the MLB. Really winning a World Series. Barring catastrophe, the regular season is just a formality the Cardinals have to wade through on their way to October. So, having your power arms fresh and peaking at playoff time is of more concern than how well they can play in April.

• Rations C-Mart’s innings. The Cardinals, like most teams, are concerned with preserving their young arms for the long-term (Note Shelby Miller’s disappearance from the playoffs). Being able to manage Carlos’ innings throughout the season will hopefully eliminate any desire to hold him back in October.

• Ensures that the bridge from the starter to the shutdown portion of the bullpen is as smooth as possible. There’s value in the middle innings. Close games are often lost in the 5th or 6th innings. Big leads are lost nearly every time Fernando Salas steps on to a major league mound. It also limits the desire of modern managers to trot every member of a bullpen into every single game until they find the one guy who is going to have a bad day. C-Mart is easily capable of going 2-4 innings at a time on any given night.

• Gives the Cardinals roster flexibility. Martinez’s ability to pitch so many innings out of the bullpen means the Cardinals don’t have to carry as many pitchers if they don’t want to. Or if they choose to carry 12 pitchers—they don’t have to use them as often.

The Cardinals have a lot of different ways they can go with Carlos Martinez in 2014. They afforded themselves this luxury because of half a decade’s worth of smart decisions in free agency, the draft, international pool, and with their own players. Carlos Martinez is a weapon they can use from the 5th inning to the 9th inning.

He should be used in tight games, and he should be able to rack up a ton of relief innings. If you make him the “eighth inning” guy, you are unnecessarily limiting him and are probably only going to get 60-80 innings out of him. More innings = more value. Pitcher’s with elite arms like Martinez have not generally been used in this manner since the 80’s, but the presence of Motte, Siegrist, and Rosenthal means that they can deploy Martinez anytime, anywhere and still be covered at the end of the ballgame.

Make sure to follow Jared on Twitter: @McGeeTriples

Jared

____________________________________

For more updates from stlCupofJoe, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe or Facebook: stlCupofJoe’s Sports Page