John Brebbia is in with Miguel Socolovich out as the Cardinals shake up their bullpen.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced announced on Saturday afternoon that they’ve designated righthanded relief pitcher Miguel Socolovich for assignment and selected the contract of righty John Brebbia from Triple-A Memphis.
Socolovich’s struggles to begin 2017 culminated with an outing in Colorado on Friday night during which he allowed four earned runs on five hits while recording just one out. That drove his ERA up to 8.68 and his WHIP up to 1.66.
The 30-year-old reliever had been dominant in spot duty over the previous two seasons for the Cardinals, posting a 1.82 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks over 29 2/3 innings in 2015, then posting a 2.00 ERA and 0.56 WHIP with 16 strikeouts and five walks over 18 innings last season.
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He made the team this spring, largely by virtue of him being out of minor-league options, and obviously he got off to a bad start. With that said, his solid strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.8 strikeouts and 1.9 walks per nine innings) provides hope that he might be able to bounce back. While his relatively unimpressive velocity and lack of a prospect pedigree will surely make him less attractive to other big-league clubs, his success over the past two seasons definitely makes him a candidate to be claimed on waivers, especially considering how active the waiver wire has been this year.
The 26-year-old Brebbia will probably be the most heartwarming story on this year’s Cardinals team, as he’s finally making his way to the majors after being released out of the Yankees organization, spending two years playing in the independent American Association, being selected by the Cardinals in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and then struggling mightily in the Cards’ system last year. Brebbia has posted career-best numbers over the early part of this season, posting a 1.69 ERA and 0.79 WHIP with 29 strikeouts and five walks in 26 2/3 innings. His fastball is said to sit in the mid-90s, and he also throws a hard slider.
On the flip side, however, his promotion is another example of the Cardinals’ failure to procure enough depth to withstand a long major-league season. With Sam Tuivailala ineligible to be promoted since he was sent down Tuesday, Brebbia and fellow righthander Mark Montgomery, another journeyman who was released out of the Yankees organization in March, were clearly the most qualified options. Unless the Cardinals can stock up on bullpen depth in the near future, it doesn’t look too promising that they’re already turning to Brebbia this early in the season.