The 6'3" 220 pound, right hander, Oklahoma native, was a first round draft pick for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996 (third overall).
Looper made his major league debut with the Cardinals just two years later in 1998, appearing in four games with St. Louis, finishing with a record of 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
Braden was part of the Cardinals trade with the Florida Marlins that brought shortstop Edgar Renteria to St. Louis in 1998.
Last season, Braden pitched for the New York Mets and finished the season with a 4-7record, with 28 saves and a 3.94 ERA. Looper has appeared in 70-plus games six out of his seven years in the Majors and holds a career record going into this season of 25-29, 3.47 ERA with 103 saves.
A free agent this past winter, Looper underwent arthroscopy surgery in October of last year, to clean out the arthritic AC joint in his right shoulder. Of course this led to some questions about the Cardinals wisdom in signing the former first round draft pick to a three year contract.
Spring training didn't give much comfort to those who suspected that the Cardinals made a mistake in bringing Looper back to St. Louis.
Looper struggled throughout spring training, looking totally lost on the mound at times. He allowed runs in four of his 10 outings, picking up three losses along the way. He finished the exhibition season with an 8.38 ERA and a 1-3 record in 9.2 innings pitched.
He needed a lot of working going into the season if he was going to get back to the form that earned him 85 saves over the last three seasons. He appeared in his first game on April 7th, and came back and appeared in games on the 10th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 21st, & 22nd.
With each outing he continued to improve to the point that he has not surrendered a run in his last five outings, dating back to April 12. He has a record of 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA over that time span.
Looper is making believers out of everyone and is prepared to step into the role as the Cardinals primary setup man.
His return to form just happens to coincide with the rest of the bullpen. The Cardinals bullpen has not allowed a run in its last 11 innings pitched dating to the 7th inning of last Tuesday's 12-4 loss to Pittsburgh. Looper and his teammates have limited opponents to just four hits in 30 at bats (.133) over the last four games and have walked only one batter and fanned five over this span (9.0 IP).
The Cardinals bullpen currently ranks 3rd in the National League with a 3.40 ERA, trailing only New York (2.73) and Florida (3.24.
The bullpen has been a big part of the Cardinals early success and the investment in Braden Looper is beginning to pay dividends.