4. A Full Year of Dominance from Alex Reyes
While the expectations for 21-year-old Alex Reyes were sky-high when he arrived in the big leagues on August 9, it would have been downright foolish to predict that the pitcher who posted a 4.96 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 14 Triple-A starts would be as dominant as he ultimately was over the remainder of the season. In fairness to Carlos Martinez, Reyes was arguably the Cardinals’ best pitcher after arriving in the majors.
In 46 innings, Reyes posted a 1.57 ERA and held hitters to a .201 average while striking out 52 batters. He was unscored upon for his first 14 major-league innings, and he allowed more than one run in just two of his five starts. The only black mark on his big-league tenure was the fact that he walked a hitter every other inning (23 walks in 46 frames), but that’s something that should improve as he learns to trust his repertoire.
It’s probably unrealistic to expect Reyes to achieve that same level of success over the duration of 2017–if he does, he’s the righthanded version of Clayton Kershaw and he’ll win both the NL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year–but he’s shown enough to inspire realistic belief that he’ll be a front-of-the-rotation starter this season. If Reyes can pitch like Justin Verlander in his prime, it will vastly increase the Cardinals’ wiggle room as they potentially deal with the continued regression of Adam Wainwright, the inconsistency that comes with Mike Leake, and any potential bumps in the road that may come with Lance Lynn’s return from Tommy John surgery.