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: Sam Tuivailala
Season stats: 0-1, 3.07 ERA, 14 games, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 20 K, 1.432 WHIP, 3.82 FIP, 0.3 bWAR
Overall grade: B
Positives: Improved on his one inning of MLB service in 2014, when he posted a 36.00 ERA….had a stretch of nine scoreless outings from May 19 to August 29 (with some trips to Memphis mixed in there)….was dominant at Memphis, putting up a 1.60 ERA, striking out almost one an inning, and getting 23 saves in 28 opportunities….struck out two or more in seven of his major league appearances, including the last four in a row….limited lefties to a .217 average in the majors….batters hit .118 when they swung at the first pitch.
Negatives: Scuffled a bit in September, allowing three runs in 3.2 major league innings that month….had a K/BB ratio of less than 2 in Memphis….batters hit .389 against him in September….if hitters took his first pitch, they hit .275….batters had a .400 average against him with two outs in an inning….his low-leverage line was .310/.394/.586….batters hit .257 against him at night.
Overview: Tui, along with Miguel Socolovich, never seemed to get the chances that he should have. I can understand a little bit more Matheny’s hesitancy in this situation, given that Tuivailala did still have some command issues. Eight walks in 14 innings isn’t exactly what you want to see when you’re in a close and late situation. Still, that explosive fastball is such a weapon and just a little more command and Trevor Rosenthal might have to look over his shoulder.
For a sixth/seventh inning option, Tuivaiala seemed to be a very reasonable choice. Instead, Matheny went with the vets, Mo made the trades, and Tui stayed in Memphis for a large part of the summer. Not exactly optimal, it wouldn’t appear.
Outlook: Tuivailala will probably bounce between Memphis and St. Louis again as he has one more option left. The club’s been waiting on that command for a while now and he’ll need to make that next step in 2016 to be that real true bullpen weapon. Otherwise, he may have to go elsewhere to see if he can harness his control.