Hummel / Kim

Cardinals pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim. (Post-Dispatch photo by Laurie Skrivan.)

After decades of the club having a lockdown closer, from Al Hrabosky to Bruce Sutter to Todd Worrell to Lee Smith to Tom Henke to Dennis Eckersley to Jason Motte to Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals really have little inkling how this role will evolve this year. Do they have to have a closer? Ideally, yes, if it is Carlos Martinez. 

But there are other ways to go —  by matchups, whether it is by team or opposing hitter, late in the game.

The Cardinals do seem to have a high number of relievers who are effective against both righthanded and lefthanded pitching. That comes into play both with the new rule that a pitcher has to face three batters and in the ninth inning when the opposition will be pulling out all stops to get its best hitters to the plate.

And, now for the one name that hasn’t been mentioned in this role. Kwang Hyun “KK” Kim. The veteran lefthander has been a starter for almost all his career in Korea and hopes to be that here. But in the spring he displayed the ability to throw quality strikes with a variety of pitches. And, in the big picture, throwing strikes is what relief pitching is all about. He has been conditioned as a starter in the second camp, too, and that’s where he’ll start the season. But you still might see him in the late innings if other options don’t work out.

Martinez, however, still is the best option.  

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