Exit Interview: Marco Gonzales

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

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Player: Marco Gonzales

Season stats: 4-2, 4.15 ERA, 10 games, 34.2 IP, 32 H, 21 BB, 31 K, 1.529 WHIP, 89 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Hero 1

Overall grade: B

Positives: Became a valuable part of the bullpen down the stretch, earning his way onto the postseason roster….vultured two wins in his first three postseason outings….held batters to a .153 average after his return from Memphis at the end of August.

Negatives: Gave up five runs in both of his first two major league starts, though one was in Colorado….took the loss in his last outing of the season, allowing three runs on one hit to the Giants in Game 4….had trouble with righthanders, who put up a .827 OPS against him.

Overview: Man, does Luke Weaver have a lot to live up to.  A year after Michael Wacha blew through the system to be a major part of a postseason roster, Gonzales repeated the feat, making two first-round draft picks in two years to be in the bigs within a year of being drafted.

Gonzales might not have been quite ready for the bigs, though.  The rationale for bringing him up to make his career debut in the thin air of Colorado was that he was a native of the area and would be able to handle the conditions.  When he allowed five runs there, you could write it off.  Giving up five runs in San Francisco, that’s another matter.  It looked like the Cards had gotten a bit greedy.

Yet I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with Gonzales after he returned from a stint in AAA.  His command was better and he came into some important situations and got big outs.  He did his best work in the high leverage situations, limiting batters to a .161/.235/.290 line in 34 plate appearances.  The bright lights of the postseason didn’t faze him either–until that last blowup against the Giants (which wasn’t all his fault, as that was the Matt Adams brain fart inning), he allowed three hits and no runs in 5.1 innings against the Dodgers and Giants.

Outlook: We’ll have to see if he’s going to be able to continue in Wacha’s footsteps and keep the success rolling.  Currently, there’s not a spot in the rotation, but I would expect one way or another, Gonzales is on the big league roster next season, probably on Opening Day unless they want him available for depth and keep him starting in Memphis.  He deserves major league time, though, and I look forward to seeing him get it.

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