In 2017, the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen was a middle-of-the-pack corps of relievers, finishing with a 3.81 ERA and a 22-29 record. It could have been better, and it could have been worse.
Heading into 2018, the Cardinals appear content with their move to bolster the back-end with the December signing of Luke Gregerson. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced Gregerson will be the team's closer "going into the season," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Benjamin Hochman.
That doesn't mean plans can't change, though.
"I do think, when you look at our bullpen, there are going to be opportunities for other people to take on more responsibilities or roles," Mozeliak said. "There's no doubt last year was a disappointment when you think of the blown saves and the close games we lost. But we also feel like this year we have a group of guys ready to take that next step up."
The Cardinals bullpen will look quite different. Former closers Seung Hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal are no longer with the team, and late-season addition Juan Nicasio signed with the Seattle Mariners in December.
Prior to naming Gregerson the closer, the Cardinals had been linked to trade talks with the Tampa Bay Rays in regard to reliever Alex Colome in addition to free agent Greg Holland, though both avenues have cooled. While neither door is necessarily closed, Mozeliak isn't openly pursuing those fronts aggressively.
Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Gregerson is coming off a rough campaign with the Houston Astros, where he posted a 4.57 ERA over 61 innings and only appeared in 3 2/3 innings in the Astros' World Series run.