Exit Interview: Miguel Socolovich

For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.  Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

Player: Miguel Socolovich

Season stats: 4-1, 1.82 ERA, 28 games, 29.2 IP, 25 H, 1 HR, 10 BB, 27 K, 1.180 WHIP, 2.76 FIP, 0.7 bWAR

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: B

Positives: Played in more games this season than his other three major league stints combined….was strong in Memphis as well, with a 2.48 ERA and a 3 K/BB ratio….was very strong against lefties, allowing a .156/.255/.156 line in 52 plate appearances….limited batters to a .179 average away from home and had a 1.17 ERA on the road….had a 0.77 ERA in July, when he pitched the most innings of any month….first batters hit .222 against him….had a .118 BAA against in high-leverage situations and kept hitters at bay with two outs and runners in scoring position as well (.067).

Negatives: Did have a higher ERA in the second half (2.31), in part because of a September that saw him post a 2.84 mark….batters hit .394 when they swung at the first pitch….righties hit .265 against him….allowed five steals….his home ERA was 2.51….batters hit .286 when there was one out in an inning….only had 32 plate appearances in high and medium-leverage situations, compared to 93 in low-leverage spots….batters hit .256 against him in those low-leverage appearances.

Overview: I’m sure there was more to it than met this untrained eye, but I never quite understood why Matheny didn’t use Socolovich more.  His unwillingness to trust both him and Sam Tuivailala forced John Mozeliak to make trades for veterans Steve Cishek and Jonathan Broxton, even though the in-house options were outpitching them at the time.  Socolovich’s first game was when he was forced into the 14th inning against Pittsburgh, where he got three men out including one via strikeout.  He got a win in that game and a win in the next game as he held the Cubs scoreless in an inning of work.  Pressure situations didn’t seem to bother him much, but Matheny still wouldn’t give him the ball when he could go to Seth Maness or Kevin Siegrist for the 822nd time.

I’m not saying that Socolovich was some revelation or anything, or that more exposure to the league might not have knocked the bloom off the rose quickly.  That said, he saw a lot of the same teams and they still didn’t seem to catch up to him (though Pittsburgh touched him for a run each time he saw them in September).  It just seemed like the club could have gone with what they had instead of dealing off assets (even non-important ones) when they had the players they had.

Outlook: You would think that Socolovich would have a real good shot at making the bullpen next season, depending on the offseason moves.  He may still have an option remaining, which would be a valuable thing as well.  If not, given how well he did for St. Louis this year, he should have no problems getting a shot elsewhere.

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