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Brian Fuentes, The St. Louis Cardinals' First Bullpen Reinforcement, Arrives As Bullpen Regroups

At the time, the St. Louis Cardinals appeared to need pitching help any way they could get it. We'd just spent a week or so speculating about them trading for reliever Brian Fuentes when the Oakland Athletics released him following a rough start to the season, and after some perfunctory negotiation Fuentes agreed to a minor league stint that ended up lasting him a week-and-a-half. Now he's in the Cardinals' bullpen, as expected—but the Cardinals bullpen doesn't look like anybody expected it to.

It just doesn't look quite so terrible as it did before. The last reliever to take a loss—Victor Marte, on the day Fuentes was signed—was sent down to make room for him. Marc Rzepczynski, the Cardinals' lefty-reliever incumbent, has thrown 5.2 scoreless innings in July, to get his ERA down under 5; Trevor Rosenthal has thrown four scoreless since being the Cardinals' surprise replacement for Maikel Cleto.

The big reason the Cardinals bullpen feels so stable, though, is Fernando Salas, who held the pen together all last year before scuffling in April and May. Since returning to the majors in June, Salas, who got the win Wednesday against the Dodgers with two scoreless, has an ERA of 2.95 in 21 innings. That'll go a long way toward making any bullpen appear solid.

At the time Brian Fuentes looked like an opportunistic first salvo in a bullpen-reinforcement that would continue through the trade deadline. Now he might be all there is, and that's a good thing.