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Cardinals 2024 Projections: Relief Pitching

While a lot of the blame for the 2023 season can fall squarely on the shoulders of the St. Louis Cardinals starting pitching staff, the relievers should shoulder their burden as well. Relievers had a 4.47 ERA, which was well above their 4.16 FIP and higher than their 4.25 xFIP as well. They left less than 70% of base runners stranded. In fact, they allowed 32% of their inherited runners to score, not helping out the starting pitchers in the slightest bit (despite that being better than 2021's 37% and 2022's 34%).

This year, as in the past, I will be looking to give you the Good, the Bad, and The Cerutti projections. The Cerutti is what my system projects for each pitcher this year. While the Good and the Bad aren’t necessarily the 90th and 10th percentile projections, respectively, or anything that mathematical. They are kind of the range my system sees these guys falling into with anything higher than THE GOOD or lower than THE BAD being completely destroying my projection system. So to speak.

This year during my projections, like the last couple of year's, I will not be predicting playing time for each individual. Instead, this is what my system spits out for plate appearances or innings pitched, so when you see a guy in the minors (like an Edwin Nunez) who could likely not even sniff a major league debut in 2024, take it as just what this guy could do given the opportunity in 2024 alone, not that he will get (checks notes) 71 innings in 2024 with the MLB club. Please don't take this as his ceiling either. Literally only what my system spits out for this year prior to him playing any games in the minors at all.

If you want to read more about my process than that, please refer back to the 2024 projections primer for more details.


Ryan Helsley broke into the spotlight with an incredibly good 2022 season and then was simply very good in 2023 instead of absolutely incredible. The projections this year look for him to continue to be very good - one of the top relievers in the majors.

Helsley has struck out an astronomical 39.33% of batters in 2022 and 35.62% of batters in 2023. He did this while walking 8.37% and 11.64% in those two years, respectively. Projections don't have him as THAT good, but even THE BAD has a K-BB% of approximately 15%, which is above league average. THE GOOD has him with over 33% Ks (which would be his worst 2022-24) and a 10.11% BB rate (which would only be his second best of the 2022-24 time frame).

I think Helsley has a chance to be better than THE GOOD in some aspects. I really wouldn't be surprised to see THE GOOD out of him in the slightest. That's where I would guess he will fall in 2024.


In the last 4 seasons, Giovanny Gallegos has not allowed a run in over 75% of his games pitched and has allowed only one run in approximately 15% of his games pitched. About 10% of the time he's gotten blown up for 2+ runs.

Now, I have no idea how that compares to the rest of the league. I really don't. What I do know is that it seems to me, anecdotally, that those blow ups typically happen when he's asked to save games, not be the setup man. So Oli, please have him stop doing that. I also would be willing to wager that more of those blow ups happened last year after the pitch clock came into effect. Maybe that's anecdotal on my part, too, as I was worried about that with him - one of the slowest working pitchers in baseball.

In any case, my THE GOOD projection has Gallegos getting back to being Gallegos - a mid-3s ERA, a 20%+ K-BB%, and plenty of innings of work. I think we take that in a heart beat. Hell, I take THE GOOD numbers in THE BAD innings pitched even.


Jojo Romero's projections have him riding his fantastic 2023 season into a season similar to Giovanny Gallegos. That would be a coup for the Cardinals to get a three-headed monster back end of the bullpen with Helsley, Gallegos, and Romero - especially if he hits THE GOOD projection with a mid-3s ERA and a huge, near 30% K rate.

But if my projections ring true, then we're still just getting started. Continue reading for more.


Andrew Kittredge was brought over from the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason for Richie Palacios. He looks to be another potentially solid reliever with a K rate near the middle of the pack. However, he had a huge season back in 2021 and hopes to regain that form a bit here.

These projections have him pitching about as well as Gallegos and Romero, albeit in lesser innings pitched as his last two seasons have been cut short on innings due to injury.

My guess is that if Kittredge is able to stay healthy in 2024, we see more innings than what is shown here and that we could very well see THE GOOD season out of Kittredge - while hoping for even better, as in 2021 he had a 22% K-BB% and had a 1.88 ERA with a 77:15 K:BB.


Keynan Middleton parlayed his best season in 2023 into a payday with the St. Louis Cardinals. It seems Lance Lynn liked the guy in Chicago and Lynn passed on the word that we could use him to the Cardinals' brass.

That seems to be a theme of the offseason (besides Chaim Bloom's picks of who to bring in) we're relying on the veterans to suggest players as well. Interesting offseason.

Middleton is projected here to be a middling reliever who walks too many for my liking. I'm not sure he'll be worth the $6M if he puts up any of these totals but I would take THE GOOD out of him for sure. Middle innings with lots of Ks and those numbers isn't the worst thing in the world and it's not my $6M.


Ryan Fernandez was brought in from the Boston Red Sox in the Rule V draft this offseason. He is another big strikeout guy but isn't projected to walk as many as Middleton.

The bad news is that he's projected to throw more innings while giving up slightly more runs per inning than Middleton. But the Cardinals went after innings this offseason, too, runs allowed be damned.

I would take any of these seasons out of a Rule V pick. The best way this could go down is if he struggled initially, was offered back to the Red Sox and they said no, then the Cardinals sent him down for a week before bringing him back up to be a very good piece while allowing a bit of movement up and down to Memphis.


Andre Pallante has been a decent pitcher in the majors thus far in his brief MLB career. Somehow my projections think he will be much better than he was last year and as far as Ks and BBs go, much better than he's been in his career.

To his credit, and my projections system doesn't know this, Pallante has been working in a pitching lab this winter (as Twitter has shown repeatedly) and has a new pitch or two to bust out this spring.

The Cardinals, and myself, would take any of these seasons out of Pallante in 2024, even if you HALVE the number of innings shown.


John King has been a serviceable reliever for the past three seasons. He's gone about 100 games and about 135 innings in the past three seasons. He's been between a 3.5 and 4.05 ERA each year. He doesn't walk a ton of people. In 2021, he struck out a reasonable rate of batters, but the last two years has basically pitched to contact.

If I had to guess, I think King's 2024 season will look like THE GOOD as it pertains to his WHIP, ERA, and BB%. However, I think he'll have less innings than THE BAD and a K% most similar to THE BAD.


Above the fold there are the guys I think will play the biggest roles in the bullpen in 2024. It's at this time that I'd like to say that I know I chose to list Matthew Liberatore with the starters, but as I mentioned in that post, I could very well see him being a reliever this year at a fairly high level. Here are the rest of the guys that I have worked up as relievers in 2024.

Packy Naughton has had some success with the Cardinals in brief interludes, but has also gotten his pitches sprayed around the yard a bit as well. This projections basically shows what we'd think - a middling reliever who isn't likely to get a huge workload of innings at the MLB level in 2024.

Riley O'Brien was brought over from the Seattle Mariners farm system this offseason and is a perfect guy to go after. He's got a live arm and is on a minor league deal. What more is there to like? The projections have him walking far too many people but the K% and H/9 show how lively his arm could be and I wouldn't mind with THE GOOD's projection of relative run prevention to see him in the pen for quite a bit of time this year.

Nick Robertson was also brought over courtesy of the Boston Red Sox. He was the top piece in the return for Tyler O'Neill. My projections like him about as much as O'Brien, maybe a bit more. I'd probably (based on this) slot those two in about the same spot on the depth chart. If you're looking for a guy who walks less, go Robertson. If you're looking for less hits allowed, O'Brien. But both will bring the Ks -hopefully when they need them the most.

Matt Svanson got brought over last season from the Blue Jays. He had an incredibly good 2023 season and these projections do not give justice to the improvements that were made in the small sample. As I said in my Starters post, these projections don't typically reward small samples and this didn't either as Svanson struck out over 30% of batters last year. However, the run prevention over that many innings would be welcome in this bullpen.

Ryan Loutos is a guy I don't expect to get a look this year unless he really shines at the AAA level. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get a look at the end of the 2022 season when he threw really decently. Last year was pretty yuck for him and these projections this year expect more of the same. Loutos' expected FIP sparkles nice and bright, but they project him to just give up way too many hits and way too many runs to be in this bullpen too often in 2024.

Josh James is on a reclamation project deal. He did not appear in affiliated baseball last year and hasn't appeared in the majors since 2021. That said, if he finds his way in the minors again, these projections have him getting but a handful of games at the MLB level and have him performing middlingly - although THE GOOD has him with a pretty decent K rate.

Andre Granillo was chosen in the 14th round of the MLB Draft in 2021 out of UC Riverside. He has spent the last 3 seasons climbing from A ball all the way to AAA. He has struck out 194 guys in 138 2/3 innings. Why hasn't he pitched in the majors then? He's also allowed 183 base runners in those 138 2/3 innings. At the AAA level it's 23 base runners in 13 1/3 innings (although 17 Ks). He's definitely intriguing and a guy to keep an eye on.

Logan Gragg's projection think that he just doesn't have anything close to what it takes to be a major leaguer right now. Of course, right now he's starting. If the Cardinals 8th round draft pick from 2019 could move to reliever, would his trajectory change? That's something to ask Birds On The Black's resident prospect guru Kyle Reis.

The Cardinals found Logan Sawyer battling in the Independent Leagues in 2022 and in 2023 he threw in 44 games for AA Springfield and AAA Memphis striking out over 25% of the batters he faced. He also had a WHIP approaching 1.6 and an ERA approaching 6.

Edwin Nunez is the last player I will discuss here. The system doesn't believe that he's a quality pitcher by any stretch of the imagination just yet. Any time a projection system has a player walking more men than he strikes out, that can't be a good thing, no? It's also the first 7+ FIP I think my projections have ever spit out. Oof.


Links to other posts in this Projection Series:


So there you have it. The 2024 St. Louis Cardinals relievers, as currently constructed. There is some high upside potential finally going here...especially if you add in guys from the starter's post that are minor leaguers that could be brought on as 2024 relievers before potentially starting in 2025. Guys like Gordon Graceffo, Cooper Hjerpe, Tink Hence, Drew Rom, Zack Thompson, and Tekoah Roby are all projected to strike out 20+% of batters as starters. As relievers they could air it out a bit more and elevate those numbers further for an inning an appearance, potentially.

In the next installment, I should be here with Part 3 - Catchers and Outfielders. Until then, have fun discussing any and all projections that you love, hate, or were waiting for with me on Twitter or Facebook!


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