Jason Motte and Chris Perez Lead the Way: The Cardinals' Closer Situation
People have been asking me over the past few days: Who is in line to get saves for the St. Louis Cardinals?
Closers are obviously at a premium in any fantasy baseball league (unless your league doesn’t count saves), and the Cardinals bullpen always seems to be in flux.
Manager Tony La Russa has looked in a lot of directions to find a closer for his team, but the bullpen situation still remains extremely unsettled.
Let’s take a look at each of the candidates who could potentially step into the closer role and try to decipher which reliever you should roster now for the most value down the road.
Motte started the season as the Cardinals closer, but he quickly imploded, giving up four earned runs against Pittsburgh and one earned run at Arizona on April 14.
Despite the earned runs, Motte is among the most talented relievers in the St. Louis 'pen. In five innings pitched on the season, he has recorded five strikeouts with only one walk.
Think about it this way: In 2008, Motte recorded a 13/2.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If that isn’t dominant, I don’t know what is.
Sure, it was done in 11 innings of work, but he was truly special.
Motte has likely suffered some early season jitters, but has a skill set that you need to consider tucking away for later. He won’t get saves in the short-term, but is near the best from this bullpen.
Perez was initally optioned to Triple-A to begin the season, but has been recalled to the big team. In 41 innings pitched last season, Perez had a 3-3 record with seven saves.
Does he have the goods to close? That is questionable, but he sure has stuff.
He averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings last year. The walks, however, were high. He walked close to five batters per nine innings, a walk rate that will hurt his chances of being a shut-down closer.
That being said, there is significant room for growth. Perez is only 23 years old, and the walk rate could improve this year if he works on his control.
When looking at the two candidates side-by-side, Perez looks like the better short-term option. La Russa seems to have lost confidence in Motte for the time being, allowing Perez to pick up some recent saves.
If he can limit his walks, however, Perez could hold the closer role for the entire year. He should be rostered in all formats in the event that he puts his control together.
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