I am certain this happens with other baseball teams too, I just do not offer them as much attention as I do the St. Louis Cardinals so it is not as noticeable to me; I would not be so bold as to suggest this is something unique to the Cardinals. With that being said, however, it has become apparent to me there is a tendency for the same offseason story-lines to repeat year after year for the Cardinals. I feel like I wrote a Nolan Arenado post every year until the team finally went out and got him. Until this offseason there was usually an article about Matt Carpenter learning a new infield position. We will also be missing the annual article about Carlos Martínez getting healthy and in shape for the upcoming season. The news cycle continues to churn though and a newcomer has recently entered the rotation:
Will Alex Reyes be a starter this year?
Every year there is usually some version of this question with various pitchers, but for the last three years Alex Reyes has been The Main Guy. This year Jordan Hicks emerges as a starting candidate as well. Let’s look at Hicks first since I feel like that is the least likely option.
Since 2018 Hicks has pitched just over 116 innings and only 10 in 2021 after missing all of 2020. He showed a lot of promise in his rookie year 2018 where he pitched almost 78 innings of the bullpen with a 3.59 ERA and 3.74 FIP. He primarily threw a sinker and a cutter in his limited time in 2021, but prior to that he complemented his sinker with a slider. Back in 2018 I tried to make the case he should throw his 4-seam fastball and slider more and throw his sinker less. Perhaps in an effort to avoid re-injury, he has mostly ditched both those pitches.
Alex Reyes has the stronger case as a starter to me. He throws a 4-seamer, slider, and sinker most of the time, and will occasionally throw a changeup or curveball making his arsenal more complex and like that of a starter. His fastball doesn’t hit triple digits quite like that of Hicks, but 97 mph would still be near the top of the league. Reyes is coming off a 72 innings pitched season in 2021 and an ERA of 3.24 with a FIP of 4.40. The walks would absolutely have to come down from the 16.4% rate he posted in 2021, but if he can do that, I would go so far as to say he could slot in well in the rotation.
Even with Reyes in the mix — to recycle an oft-used offseason headline — the Cardinals should still be looking for free agent pitching (Max Scherzer is an interesting option and is also frequently featured as a Cardinals storyline). Since 2016 he has pitched 145 innings — 46 of those coming in 2016 and 72 coming in 2021. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch broke it all down here:
A rough approximation of how #stlcards currently see their starting rotation:— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) November 11, 2021
Midseason arrival: Liberatore
For @stltoday from Carlsbad:https://t.co/bhXcysyAlC
Just for starters: As they shop for rotation upgrade, Cardinals discuss, debate bringing Reyes, Hicks into mix | Derrick Goold | St. Louis Post Dispatch
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St. Louis, the Bruce family loves you always. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/xEJGPuMIhv— Isaac Bruce (@IsaacBruce80) November 8, 2021