2013 Memphis Redbirds Reliever of the Year

After a rough April, left-hander Sam Freeman had a record-setting year in Triple-A for the Cardinals.

In 2013's first half, the Memphis Redbirds' bullpen was very shaky. In April, the bullpen allowed 10 more earned runs than the starting pitchers, in 58 fewer innings pitched. By the end of the year, the group had developed some consistency despite losing Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez.

It was a year that saw a lot of bullpen flexibility and movement, with several guys being called up to St. Louis and back down to Memphis. Other relievers moved out. In fact, of the eight relief pitchers that made 30 or more appearances on the mound for the Redbirds, only four remain with the Cardinals organization. They are Victor Marte, Jorge Rondon, Sam Freeman and Eric Fornataro.

From an ERA standpoint, the two competing for The Cardinal Nation Memphis Redbirds Relief Pitcher of the Year are Freeman and Rondon - each hovering around 3.00 (Rondon at 3.06 and Freeman at 2.97). Although the two pitchers are close in ERA, other statistics clearly point to Freeman as the more effective. The 26-year-old southpaw excelled this year in Memphis from May through July.

Freeman started off very slowly in April, allowing at least two runs in four of eight April appearances, posting an 8.03 ERA for the month. Despite the slow start, Freeman pitched well in from then on. In May, the University of Kansas alumnus retired the first batter faced out eight times out of twelve and started his scoreless innings streak.

From May 28 until July 12, Freeman did not allow a run (16 appearances and 25 2/3 frames). Over those outings, the wiry pitcher struck out 32 batters and had a span of eight games without issuing a walk. In the process, Freeman set the Redbirds franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched by a reliever.

That shutout streak make a strong case for Freeman as the club's best reliever, as do as his strikeouts and low walk totals. In 69 2/3 frames pitched this season, Freeman walked 27, struck out 66 and registered a WHIP of 1.21.

Overall, Freeman made big strides this season and looks to be ready support St. Louis as one of the club's few left-handed relievers.

Link to master article with all 2013 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the Memphis Redbirds Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.

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