St. Louis Cardinals

The bullpen is shaping up to be a strength for the Cardinals this season

Brett Cecil signs four-year deal with St. Louis Cardinals

In this file video, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil talks about signing his four-year, $30.5-million free-agent deal.
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In this file video, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil talks about signing his four-year, $30.5-million free-agent deal.

The makeup of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen is largely determined, and manager Mike Matheny likes what he sees as the season approaches.

Korean right-hander Seung Hwan Oh returns for his second year as the closer. Others in the mix: Kevin Siegrist and newcomer Brett Cecil from the left side and Jonathan Broxton, Matt Bowman, Sam Tuivailala and Miguel Socolovich from the right side.

Former closer Trevor Rosenthal could also join that group, although Matheny doesn’t yet place him in that category as Rosenthal battles Michael Wacha for the final spot in the rotation.

Last year, the Cardinals bullpen ranked seventh in the National League and 13th in baseball with a 3.62 ERA. Only the Cincinnati Reds had a higher ERA in the NL Central.

“Between Cecil, a guy we know can pitch the end of a game, and what Oh did last year, and what Siegrist can do, and take Broxton and some of the other guys we have in this mix, we have some good innings covered on the back side,” Matheny said. “I think anybody would be pretty happy with the experience we have there.”

Cecil is the only new addition to the pen since last season. The Cardinals inked the former Toronto Blue Jay to a four-year, $30.5-million, free-agent contract in November after learning that Zach Duke would miss all or most of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

“The bullpen is going to be a big part (of our success) because we’re going to have close games,” Matheny said. “When you look at the competition we have – whether it’s in our division or in the whole league – there’s good teams everywhere. We’re going to have games where you’re locked horns.

“It’s going to come down to who’s playing the cleanest baseball. That comes to making pitches at the back end of the game and making plays behind them and all those little things offensively that we need to do.”

Siegrist made his first spring appearance Wednesday and threw a scoreless inning. Siegrist is recovering from shoulder tightness.

“It felt good,” Siegrist said. “I got in sync pretty good and all my pitches were working. For me, it’s about fine-tuning (pitches). I know the feel of how I want them to be.

“We’ll see how I recover, but I should be back on a normal schedule with all the other relievers.”

Matheny said he’s “greedy” about the Cardinals’ strengths.

“We’ve been having a lot of great offensive-output days, but there’s no reason why we can’t have both and have the kind of pitching that I know we’re capable of having,” Matheny said. “I want the whole thing. I don’t think it’s unrealistic. That’s what these guys should be asking of themselves.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm