Tuesday, Alex Reyes threw his most meaningful pitches since May 30 of last year. While Adam Wainwright was facing big league hitters on one field, Reyes threw his first pitches with hitters in the box in almost nine months.
Though Rangel Ravelo, Tommy Edman and Max Schrock didn’t take any swings against Reyes, they stood in during his latest bullpen to track pitches and provide feedback to the big righty. After coming off the mound, Reyes said, “it went well.”
Two Lost Years
After coming up late in 2016 as one of the best prospects in baseball and dominating over 12 appearances, the Cardinals were excited about what 2017 would hold for Alex. Unfortunately, an injury and Tommy John surgery kept him from ever throwing a pitch in his age 22 season.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, they were in a place with their pitching rotation that allowed them not to rush Reyes back in 2018. They had decided to give him all the time he needed, and then some, to come back. When the time finally came for Reyes to make his first start in over a year for the Cardinals, everyone was excited to see him back.
The excitement didn’t last long though. He pitched just four innings before a lat injury removed him from the game. Less than a month later, on June 6th, Reyes underwent surgery to repair the torn tendon. He was then sidelined for the rest of the season.
Another Hopeful Spring
From his debut in 2016 through the 2018 season, Reyes only threw 50 innings for the Cardinals. For most pitchers trying to break into the big leagues, that kind of start to a career would be devastating. However, Alex Reyes is not most pitchers and he’s only 24-years-old heading into his fourth season.
Over the 50 innings that he has pitched, Alex has a 1.44 ERA and a 2.81 FIP. Those numbers alone are enough reason for the Cardinals to continue to stick with him through the injuries. Even if they weren’t, it’s not every day a pitcher comes around with a triple-digit fastball and two plus off-speed pitches.
Originally, Reyes wasn’t supposed to throw a live bullpen until later in camp. However, two strong prior bullpens prompted the Cards to speed up his rehab. With that huge hurdle cleared ahead of schedule, it looks like Alex will definitely get to pitch during Grapefruit League play.
Clearly just being ready to pitch in Spring Training isn’t the goal though. Especially now that Carlos Martinez has been shut down for two weeks, having Reyes on the Opening Day roster would benefit all parties involved. According to Mike Shildt, that’s not out of the question either. Having seen his latest work, the Redbirds manager said, “he is in a good spot and we feel good about progressing [him].”
Staying healthy will be the most important thing, obviously. The Cardinals won’t rush Reyes back anymore than they did last year. However, he’s been looking really strong since joining camp. Having heard from Shildt, no one should be surprised if Reyes is in Milwaukee on March 28.
Featured Image by Christian Gooden of St. Louis Post Dispatch