ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Fresh off a drubbing at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, the Cardinals have begun their bullpen shakeup.
Saturday, the Cardinals purchased the contract of John Brebbia from Triple-A Memphis and exchanged him for Miguel Socolovich. Socolovich (18 runs allowed in 18.2 innings pitched) was out of options, which means the team DFA-ed him to make room for Brebbia on both the 40-man and 25-man roster. He’ll have to pass through waivers before he’s demoted.
For his part, the 26-year-old Brebbia has been tremendous for Memphis. He’s thrown 26.2 innings, struck out 29, walked five and holds a 1.69 ERA. Hitters are managing just a .127 average against him and, despite being righthanded, he’s holding lefties to a .146 average and a sub-.300 slugging percentage.
Impressive numbers so far, albeit against lesser competition. But the reason you know Brebbia’s stats, the reason Cardinal fans know his name at all, is a problem.
The Cardinal bullpen has been a disaster of late, and the roster of available names have largely failed to answer the bell.
St. Louis relievers have a 4.64 ERA, 12th in the National League. That number was certainly worsened by Friday’s seven-run implosion at Coors Field, but the cracks in the hull have been apparent for some time.
Jonathan Broxton has the worst ERA of his career (6.28). He has a WHIP above 2.00, and is currently pitching at a pace of 12 hits and six walks per nine innings. Brett Cecil, signed for $30.5 million this year, is allowing 48 percent of all runners he inherits to score. His win probability added is -1.1. You don’t need in-depth knowledge of the metric to know when someone asks, “What’s our probability of winning when we deploy this guy?” it is generally not good when the answer is “Negative.”
Seung-hwan Oh is hovering around league average this season. Kevin Siegrist has been unable to steady his numbers, allowing .750+ OPS to hitters on either side of the plate and walking 11 in 18 innings. Tyler Lyons has thrown just four innings. Matt Bowman (Friday’s disaster aside) has been reliable. Trevor Rosenthal has been tremendous.
And that’s the list.
Sam Tuivailala, who has pitched well and whose improved repertoire is promising, was demoted and can not be called up again for another week; a decision that now looks misguided in the wake of Socolovich’s designation.
The Cardinals have the best rotation in the majors and an offense stuck in the bottom third of teams in terms of run production. They are going to have close games, and currently have two relievers they trust to preserve tight leads. Rosenthal and Bowman can’t throw every day, which means someone, somewhere has to be able to get three meaningful outs reliably.
Brebbia is the next name on the audition call sheet. If the Cardinals want any hope of hanging around in the division race, he won’t be the last.