All pitchers were ranked in five categories: Walks-and-Hits-per-Innings-Pitched, Strikeouts-to-Walks ratio, Strikeouts per nine Innings Pitched, Walks per nine Innings Pitched and Batting Average Against.
I did not use earned run average because I decided it was too team-dependent. I looked at specific roles when choosing relievers while continuing to utilize the rankings. I wanted a long reliever, a righty and lefty set-up guy, a second lefty and a closer. The final slot was to be filled by the best available reliever. I will elaborate further on the results in the "Comments" section below.
Qualifiers - Tyler Adamczyk, Oscar Alvarez, Phillip Andersen, Buddy Blair, Mitchell Boggs, Jeremy Cummings, Dennis Dove, Jose Garcia, Chris Gissell, Eric Haberer, Chris Lambert, Randy Leek, Mark Michael, Jordan Pals, Mike Parisi, Stuart Pomeranz, Bill Pulsipher, Anthony Reyes, Matt Scherer, Adam Wainwright, Nick Webber, Zack Zuercher
The Ace -
There is not much else to be said about Anthony Reyes. At the minor league level, Reyes played entirely with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. His 2005 line went: 23 G, 23 GS, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 7-6, 128.2 IP, 105 H, 55 R, 52 ER, 13 HR, 34 BB, 136 SO, 3.64 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 4.00 K/BB, 9.51 K/9 IP, 2.38 BB/9 IP, .222 BAA. Those stats placed him first in K/9 IP and K/BB ratio, second in WHIP, third in BAA and fifth in BB/9 IP when compared to the twenty-one other qualifying starters. Reyes struck out over thirty-six percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. That led all qualifying starters and made him the only qualifying starter to record over thirty-three percent of his outs via a strikeout. (A thirty-three percent strikeout rate is the baseline for being considered a strikeout pitcher.) Over sixty-two percent of his contact outs came via a fly out which made him the most extreme flyball out pitcher in the system, contact outs only The Birdhouse Pitcher of the Year made his Major League debut in August 2005. He turned 24 in October 2005.
The #2 -
Gissell spent 2005 with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. His stat line read: 23 G, 23 GS, 2 CG, 0 SHO, 8-8, 137.1 IP, 134 H, 63 R, 54 ER, 16 HR, 36 BB, 123 SO, 3.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 3.42 K/BB, 8.06 K/9 IP, 2.36 BB/9 IP, .256 BAA. He placed third in K/9 IP, fourth in K/BB ratio and BB/9 IP, seventh in WHIP and eighth in BAA among the twenty-two qualifiers. Gissell struck out thirty percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. That placed him second behind Anthony Reyes. Fifty-four percent of his contact outs were fly ball outs which places him in the neutral range which was 52-58% last season. Gissell turned 28 earlier this month. He became a free agent at season's end and is no longer in the Cardinals' minor league system.
In The Middle -
Webber was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft and split the season between the Short-season A New Jersey Cardinals and class A Swing of the Quad Cities. Webber's combined line went: 15 G, 14 GS, 1 CG, 0 SHO, 5-6, 82 IP, 63 H, 33 R, 22 ER, 3 HR, 24 BB, 54 SO, 2.41 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 2.25 K/BB, 5.93 K/9 IP, 2.63 BB/9 IP, .205 BAA. He placed first in BAA and WHIP, eighth in BB/9 IP, thirteenth in K/BB ratio and fifteenth in K/9 IP. Webber struck out just twenty-one percent of the batters that recorded outs against him but over seventy-six percent of his contact outs were ground ball outs which made him the most extreme ground ball starter in the system, qualifier or not. Webber was ranked as the twelfth-best prospect in the Cardinals' system by The Birdhouse. He turns 22 in May 2006.
Zuercher was drafted in the ninth round of the 2005 draft and spent the season with the Short-season A New Jersey Cardinals. A lefty, Zuercher's line went: 16 G, 14 GS, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 5-7, 82 IP, 66 H, 36 R, 34 ER, 9 HR, 25 BB, 63 SO, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.52 K/BB, 6.91 K/9 IP, 2.74 BB/9 IP, .223 BAA. He placed third in WHIP, fourth in BAA, ninth in K/BB and BB/9 IP and eleventh in K/9 IP. Zuercher struck out just under twenty-seven percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. Fifty-four percent of his contact outs were fly ball which places him firmly in the neutral range. Zuercher turns 22 in April 2006.
The 5 Guy -
Andersen's 2005 season did not begin until June 1st when he was promoted out of extended Spring Training into the Swing's rotation. His line read: 17 G, 17 GS, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 5-1, 100.1 IP, 79 H, 41 R, 33 ER, 9 HR, 37 BB, 86 SO, 2.96 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.32 K/BB, 7.71 K/9 IP, 3.32 BB/9 IP, .216 BAA. Those stats placed him second in BAA, fourth in WHIP and K/9 IP, twelfth in K/BB ratio and eighteenth in BB/9 IP. Andersen struck out just under twenty-nine percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. Over sixty-two percent of his contact outs were fly balls which made him the second most extreme fly ball pitcher in the Cardinals' system, qualifier or not, behind Anthony Reyes. Andersen was named the Cardinals' thirty-sixth best prospect by The Birdhouse. He turned 22 in late October 2005.
First One Called Up -
Leek spent all of 2005 with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals where he led the team and league in wins with fifteen. His stat line went: 29 G, 28 GS, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 15-8, 191.2 IP, 196 H, 86 R, 80 ER, 29 HR, 29 BB, 104 SO, 3.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.59 K/BB, 4.88 K/9 IP, 1.36 BB/9 IP, .265 BAA. He placed first in BB/9 IP, second in K/BB ratio, fifth in WHIP, eleventh in BAA and twenty-first in K/9 IP out of twenty-two qualifiers. A lefty, Leek struck out just under nineteen percent of the batters that recorded outs against him which puts him second-to-last in that category among all Cardinals' starters. He recorded just under fifty-three percent of his contact outs via a fly ball which makes him a neutral with groundball tendencies pitcher. Leek re-signed with the Cardinals during the off-season and currently assigned to the Memphis roster. He turns 29 in April 2006.
I ended up listing six starters here as Phillip Andersen and Randy Leek tied for the fifth rotation slot. I gave the nod the much younger and higher strikeout pitcher but felt Leek certainly deserved recognition. It is no surprise to me that the top four WHIP slots are in the rotation as is the seventh best. Leek notched the fifth best WHIP and Jeremy Cummings, who finished in seventh place, had the sixth best WHIP. Although Zach Zuercher barely led Nick Webber for the third spot in the rotation, I moved Webber into the three hole since he led the minors in both BAA and WHIP and did it at a slightly higher level than did Zuercher. To illustrate how tight the ranking were, three pitchers tied for the eighth slot: Jose Garcia, Jordan Pals and Adam Wainwright. Mike Parisi was hot on their trail. All in all, it was a close competition after the first two rotation slots.
The Qualifiers - Josh Axelson, Roberto Batista, Danny Borne, Jason Cairns, Carmen Cali, Ryan Campbell, Andy Cavazos, Chris Clem, Jeremy Cook, Adam Daniels, Bo Dickerson, Ryan Dixon, Cory Doyne, Kevin Fitzgerald, Justin Garza, Jessen Grant, Michael Gross, Alberto Guerrero, Trey Hearne, Ashley Hooks, Tyler Johnson, Jimmy Journell, Josh Kinney, Kyle McClellan, Cory Meacham, Mark Nussbeck, Kevin Ool, Josh Pearce, John Powell, Anthony Rawson, Michael Repole, Quinton Robertson, Chris Russ, Evan Rust, Kyle Sadlowski, Rich Scalamandre, Josh Schwartz, Mike Sillman, Jaymie Torres, Matt Trent, Scott Vander Weg, Matt Weagle, Mark Worrell, Jeremy Zick
Long Relief -
Nussbeck was released by the Cardinals in April, re-signed in May and spent the season shuttling between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. His combined stat line read: 25 G, 10 GS, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 8 GF, 2 SV, 6-6, 85.2 IP, 83 H, 33 R, 32 ER, 9 HR, 14 BB, 73 SO, 3.36 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 5.21 K/BB, 7.67 K/9 IP, 1.47 BB/9 IP, .257 BAA. Nussbeck was first in K/BB ratio, second in BB/9 IP, fourth in WHIP, nineteenth in K/9 IP and twenty-second in BAA among the forty-four relievers that qualified for consideration. His overall numbers placed him third out of forty-four relievers. He struck out almost thirty percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. Sixty percent of Nussbeck's contact outs were fly balls which made him the third highest flyball reliever in the system. Nussbeck became a free agent at the end of the season and recently signed a contract with an Independent League team as a pitcher/coach.
Right-Handed Middle Relief -
Hearne was drafted in the twenty-eighth round of the 2005 draft and spent the season at Short-season A New Jersey. His line went: 24 G, 1 GS, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 6 GF, 0 SV, 4-2, 38.2 IP, 25 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 2 HR, 12 BB, 42 SO, 2.56 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 3.50 K/BB, 9.78 K/9 IP, 2.79 BB/9 IP, .181 BAA. He placed first in WHIP, third in BAA, fifth in K/BB ratio, seventh in K/9 IP and eleventh in BB/9 IP. Hearne's overall numbers placed him first among the forty-four qualified relievers. He struck out over thirty-five percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. That qualifies him as a strikeout pitcher. His contact outs were split evenly between ground and fly ball outs. Hearne turned 22 in August 2005.
Left-Handed Middle Relief -
Ool spent 2005 moving up the Cardinals' food chain. He started in class A Quad Cities, moved up to A-Advanced Palm Beach and finished in Double-A Springfield. His combined line read: 56 G, 0 GS, 17 GF, 3 SV, 11-2, 76.1 IP, 67 H, 31 R, 26 ER, 2 HR, 19 BB, 52 SO, 3.07 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2.74 K/BB, 6.13 K/9 IP, 2.24 BB/9 IP, .233 BAA. He placed third in WHIP, fifty in BB/9 IP, tenth in K/BB ratio, seventeenth in BAA and thirty-seventh in K/9 IP. Ool's overall numbers placed him eighth among all qualified relievers and third in the lefty group. He struck out just under twenty percent of the batters that recorded outs against him. Sixty-six percent of his contact outs were groundouts which made him the fifth highest groundball reliever in the system. Ool turned 25 earlier this month.
Righty Set-up Guy -
Doyne rocketed up the minor league ladder in 2005. He started in Quad Cities, zoomed through Palm Beach and finished the season as Springfield's closer. His combined line went: 56 G, 0 GS, 35 GF, 19 SV, 3-1, 66.2 IP, 40 H, 14 R, 12 ER, 5 HR, 38 BB, 69 SO, 1.62 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 1.82 K/BB, 9.32 K/9 IP, 5.13 BB/9 IP, .165 BAA. That was good for first in BAA, fifth in WHIP, eighth in K/9 IP, twenty-fifth in K/BB ratio because his BB/9 IP ranked him thirty-sixth. Overall he placed ninth out of forty-four pitchers. Doyne struck out almost thirty-five percent of the batters that recorded an out against him. Fifty-five percent of his contact outs were of the fly ball variety which places him in the neutral range. He was ranked as the Cardinals' nineteenth best prospect by The Birdhouse and turned 24 in August.
Lefty Set-Up Guy -
Johnson spent 2005 with Triple-A Memphis. His line read: 57 G, 0 GS, 15 GF, 7 SV, 2-1, 59 IP, 51 H, 31 R, 28 ER, 6 HR, 26 BB, 77 SO, 4.27 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 2.96 K/BB, 11.75 K/9 IP, 3.97 BB/9 IP, .232 BAA. He was second in K/9 IP, seventh in K/BB ratio, thirteenth in WHIP, sixteenth in BAA and twenty-fourth in BB/9 IP. Overall, Johnson was the fifth-ranked reliever of the forty-four and the best lefty. He struck out over forty-four percent of the batters that recorded an out against him, the second best performance in the system. Over fifty-six percent of his contact outs were ground balls which makes Johnson a nice combination of strikeout/groundball pitcher. He was the Cardinals' eleventh-best prospect, according to The Birdhouse, and turns 25 in June 2006.
The Closer -
Mark Worrell, Jr.
The closin' man. Worrell spent 2005 closing for the Florida State League champion Palm Beach Cardinals. (Yes!!) His stat line went: 53 G, 0 GS, 52 GF, 35 SV, 2-3, 56 IP, 38 H, 20 R, 14 ER, 6 HR, 19 BB, 53 SO, 2.25 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 2.79 K/BB, 8.52 K/9 IP, 3.05 BB/9 IP, .191 BAA. He placed second in WHIP, fifth in BAA, thirteenth in K/9 IP and fifteenth in BB/9 IP. His overall numbers were good for second place among the forty-four qualified relievers. Worrell struck out just over twenty-nine percent of the batters that recorded an out against him. Fifty-one percent of his contact outs were groundballs which makes him a groundball pitcher. He was ranked as the Cardinals' seventeenth-best prospect by The Birdhouse and turns 23 in March 2006.
Although I was looking to fill specific roles in my bullpen, it worked out that a variety of relievers ranked near the top cumulatively. This made my job pretty easy. Relievers with the first, second, third, fifth, eighth and ninth best cumulative scores ended up in the bullpen. The omissions were fourth-rated Andy Cavazos who lost out on the righty middle relief role to first-rated Trey Hearne, seventh-rated Josh Pearce who lost the long relief role to third-rated Mark Nussbeck and lefty Josh Schwartz. Schwartz placed sixth overall and he was passed over for the lefty middle relief role in favor of eighth-rated Kevin Ool. I went with the vet that did it at a much higher level, Double-A, than did Mr. Schwartz, Rookie League.
In closing, I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did in preparing it. It was just a blast!!
The Pitching Staff
#1 – Anthony Reyes
#2 – Chris Gissell
#3 – Nick Webber
#4 – Zach Zuercher
#5 – Phillip Andersen
Long Relief – Mark Nussbeck
Right-Handed Middle Relief – Trey Hearne
Left-Handed Middle Relief – Kevin Ool
Righty Set-Up Guy – Cory Doyne
Lefty Set-Up Guy – Tyler Johnson
The Closer – Mark Worrell, Jr.
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