May 25, 2024


The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that Josh James, a right-handed reliever, had been unconditionally released. The former Astros closer has been pitching for the team’s Triple-A club in Memphis since signing a minor league contract in the offseason.

James has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2021. The 31-year-old spent the majority of the 2022 season on the injured list before having flexor surgery, which cost him the whole 2023 season.

Given his previous success in Houston, James was an intriguing minor league flier, but he struggled with command during his brief stint with the Redbirds.


Cardinals sign former Astros reliever Josh James to a minor-league deal


In 7 2/3 innings this season, he’s allowed 17 earned runs (19.96 ERA) on 13 hits and 15 walks while striking out only five. James faced 51 batters and walked 15 (29.4 percent).

Prior to his forearm injury, James spent four seasons in the Houston bullpen as a hard-throwing middle reliever with high strikeout and walk numbers. In 106 1/3 innings at the MLB level, James has struck out 34.3 percent of his opponents while walking 13.2 percent, resulting in a 4.64 earned run average.

He may get another chance elsewhere, but a near-30 percent walk rate in Triple-A after such a long injury absence demonstrates that James is still a project at this stage. He has come a long way since his outstanding 2.35 ERA, 32% strikeout rate, and 7.7% walk rate as a rookie with the Astros in 2018.




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