ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) - It will be a question that gets asked to Mike Matheny and John Mozeliak time and time and time and time again once spring training hits. Heck, the question might just come up before then.
Where will Alex Reyes pitch in 2017? And by “where” I don’t mean the physical location.
The 22-year old flame thrower has more than proven he’s a big league pitcher. The man will be in St. Louis – not Memphis.
The “where” refers to his role. Will the Cards top young talent be taking his talents to the bullpen to help close out wins or will he be given the keys to 20 percent of the starting rotation?
I would imagine the answer depends on other factors as the offseason rolls on – not to mention what else happens once pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Florida in February.
But it stands to argue a guy who pitched 46 innings and gave up just eight earned runs (1.57 ERA) a year ago is ready for a prime time role. Would the Cardinals dare take a chance by NOT putting Reyes in the starting rotation?
Well, let’s look at who we know is going to among the starters in 2017. It begins with the locks. We all know Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake are under contract and have spots cemented based on said contracts.
We all know Carlos Martinez is a budding superstar – is he already one? – and will likely lead the rotation into next year.
From there it seems like a relatively safe bet at this point Lance Lynn will occupy a spot in the final year of his dead before he reaches free agency. Next year is a really important year for Lynn, something the Cardinals and Lynn himself have admitted, and it appears the Cards are going to take that bet and roll with him.
After that it’s a bunch of question marks. What is the health status of Michael Wacha? What are the Cardinals going to do about Jaime Garcia and his $11.5 million option? What about Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney? Luke Weaver?
Then there’s Reyes.
Until the organization makes its call on Garcia we don’t know exactly who will be coming into spring training just yet. Even if he comes to camp it stands to reason he may still be trade bait in March. The Cardinals have not been shy to make moves before the season starts.
Should Wacha show a stronger right shoulder in spring training and lead the Cards to believe he can handle a heavier workload in 2017 they just might put Alex Reyes in relief – knowing he can return to the rotation in a moment’s notice.
Should Wacha give the team any sort of pause – and Garcia still has more value elsewhere – that changes things.
You also have to remember Alex Reyes could just come to spring training and light opponents up in Grapefruit League play. He could force the Cardinals hand here. Why not just let your top pitching prospect fly and let him experience a few bumps in the road on the way to prosperity? You can’t learn how to be efficient until you’re given a chance to be efficient.
The bullpen does not offer that learning opportunity.
Either way, Reyes will be pitching a lot in 2017. That much is for sure.
Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.