The St. Louis Cardinals have added another option to their bullpen mix, as Tim Dierkes of MLBTR is reporting that they've signed lefty reliever R.J. Swindle to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Swindle last appeared in the majors in 2009 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Few pitchers in the game are more unorthodox than Swindle. The 28-year-old reliever was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and first hit the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. His stuff is, quite frankly, pretty weird. Swindle depends mostly on a fastball that sits in the low 80's and a slider that sits in the low 70's, but he also occasionally uses a curveball that sits around 55 MPH. And no, that's not a typo. According to Pitch F/X data from FanGraphs, Swindle's average curveball velocity in 2009 was a stunning 54.0 MPH.
That unusual approach hasn't led to success in the majors, though. In 11 MLB innings, Swindle's given up five home runs on the way to posting a 12.71 ERA. Teams keep giving him chances, though, because of his success in the minors. In 178 innings over the past four years, he's posted a 2.37 ERA with more than three times as many strikeouts than walks.
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