Ottavino has been lights-out as an extended reliever this month, and he entered Monday's series opener against the Mets having allowed just two earned runs over 16 2/3 innings -- spread over six appearances.
"If this guy can continue to gain the consistency with the strike-throwing capability that he has, with the repertoire that he has, he can help us shorten the game up dramatically," Tracy said.
That repertoire has gotten a lot more dangerous with the dramatic improvement of Ottavino's changeup, coupled with improved command of his fastball.
"If he can start to gravitate towards something like that, with a 96-mph fastball and a wipeout slider, now you have a pitch that's going to get hitters going back and forth," Tracy said. "If he forces people to start having to adjust to different speeds and continues to work on his fastball command, we've got ourselves a good pitcher on our hands -- a really good pitcher."
Tracy said Ottavino's recent resurgence -- his ERA stood at 4.99 on July 31 -- can also be credited to his improved comfort level and confidence as an extended reliever. And although he was drafted and signed as a starter by the Cardinals in 2006, Tracy said his future role with the team is starting to take hold.
"He's much improved because he's a more consistent strike-thrower early in the count, and he's also begun to experiment a little bit with a changeup," Tracy said.
"This guy is a terrific find for our organization, not only what he's done this year, but moving forward."