St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals release struggling relievers Holland and Lyons as part of bullpen overhaul

Greg Holland reacts on the mound after giving up a home run.
Greg Holland reacts on the mound after giving up a home run. AP

John Mozeliak’s recent promise to overhaul the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen began Friday with the release of struggling relievers Greg Holland and Tyler Lyons.

Both were designated for assignment to make room for heralded minor league talent, including starter Dakota Hudson, who joined the team in time for its three-game divisional series with the Chicago Cubs this weekend at Busch Stadium. Hudson was pulled from a scheduled start at triple-A Memphis Wednesday.

Holland came to the Cardinals in free agency as the National League’s reigning saves leader. He had 41 stops for the Colorado Rockies in 2017, despite a disastrous four weeks in August that ballooned his season ERA to 3.61 in 57 innings.

He turned down a $15 million qualifying offer from the Rockies, but languished on the free agent market until the Cardinals picked him up on March 31, two days after the regular season began.

Free agent Luke Gregerson, who was hoped to win the closer’s job during spring training, started the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Further injuries to Dominic Leone further weakened the bullpen and necessitated the Holland signing.

Holland’s struggles continued with his new team, which pressed him into duty without benefit of a spring training and only two innings of minor league rehab work.

Lyons 1.jpg
Relief pitcher Tyler Lyons warms up in the bullpen during a spring training game in Jupiter, Florida. Steve Nagy

Another free agent, Bud Norris, won the closer’s role and has 19 saves with 52 strikeouts through 41 innings of work.

Holland departs the Cardinals with an 0-2 record and 7.92 ERA in 25 innings pitched. He’s struck out just 22 batters while also walking 22 and allowing 34 base hits. The three-time All-Star will be paid the balance of his one-year, $14 million contract.

Lyons, 30 and in his sixth season with St. Louis, had a solid year as the Cardinals’ left-handed bullpen specialist in 2017 with a career-best 2.83 ERA and 68 strikeouts. Limited to 16.2 innings of work this season, Lyons has a 8.64 ERA and a WHIP near 2.0.

Among a laundry list of other moves, the Cardinals promoted Hudson for his major league debut. Rated the Cardinals’ No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, Hudson is 13-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 starts in Memphis.

The Cardinals made a series of other moves involving the pitching staff on Friday, including placing left-hander Brett Cecil and his inflammed right foot on the 10-day disabled list. The move is retroactive to July 23. The team also traded reliever Sam Tuivailala to the Seattle Mariners for minor league reliever Seth Elledge.

Elledge, 22, recently rated as the 10th best prospect in the Mariners system by Baseball America, was 5-1 with a 1.17 ERA and 9 saves in 31 games for Modesto (A), striking out 54 in 38.1 innings while being named a California League All-Star.

Other moves:

  • Recalled right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver from Peoria (A);

  • Recalled left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb from Memphis (AAA);

  • Recalled right-handed pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon from Memphis (AAA);

  • Placed left-handed pitcher Brett Cecil (right foot inflammation) on 10-day disabled list, retroactive to July 23.