News: Socolovich, who owns a 4.00 ERA over nine spring innings, sees command of his fastball as a pivotal part of winning a roster spot, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. "If I throw more fastballs for strikes, it's going to make my changeup and my slider better," Socolovich said. "They're not going to be able to be ready for just one pitch. They're going to have to be ready for three. I want to prove that I can throw my fastball for a strike and locate it, too."
Impact: Socolovich owns a 1.89 ERA, .175 BAA, 0.94 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 since debuting with the Cardinals in 2015, with the first two figures tops among any relievers on the team with a minimum of 18 innings pitched over that span. That said, he's still fighting for the final bullpen spot, with the fact that he's out of minor league options potentially giving him a slight leg up. The team has encouraged Socolovich to throw his fastball with greater regularity and he's followed suit, firing it with 12 percent greater frequency in 2016 as compared to the season prior. The pitch was key in helping get off to a strong start this spring, and despite some struggles over his last three innings, he retains the confidence of manager Mike Matheny. "He's been terrific," Matheny said. "He's got a good enough fastball to come at anybody, and that will make his secondary pitches better. He was a hard thrower even before we got him. [We're] just making sure he knows he can trust the fact that that should be a good pitch."