Current St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist is no Dave Duncan. There will never be another pitching coach quite like Duncan.
But Lilliquist is no slouch, either. He’s been more than competent in keeping the Cardinals in contention in the NL Central.
Duncan used to be one of the best in the business at taking a struggling pitcher, making a few minor adjustments and turning him back into the productive pitcher he once was.
Now, it’s time to see if Lilliquist has that same magic touch. Here are three relievers the Cardinals should trade for and let Lilliquist see if he can turn their seasons around.
Heath Bell, Miami Marlins
Bell was a solid closer for many years in San Diego, but he has been absolutely terrible in Miami this year.
He currently sports a 5.90 ERA and has only converted 19 of his 25 save opportunities.
Clearly, something isn’t working for him in Miami. It’s time to see if a change of scenery is all he needs.
Maybe working with Lilliquist for a couple of weeks will turn him back into the productive power pitcher he once was.
Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies
Betancourt has a higher ERA than he did last season and has already walked more batters than he did in all of 2011.
The entire Rockies pitching staff has been terrible this year, so it’s hard to single out Betancourt, who has actually been one of the best pitchers on the staff.
But, getting him off that losing team and putting him on a team that’s in the middle of a pennant race might just be the boost he needs.
Then, he can get back to being the solid pitcher with nasty stuff that he’s been in years past.
Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers
Rodriguez has been bad lately and has blown six of his nine save opportunities this season.
But, this is still the guy who saved a Major League-record 62 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2008.
Somewhere behind that 4.80 ERA there is still an outstanding pitcher who just needs to make a few minor changes to get back to top form.
Going to the Cardinals and giving Lilliquist a chance to work with him might be all it takes to turn him into a dominant eighth-inning man.