For the fifth 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.
This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure. Our focus this time is the Viva El Birdos podcast. John and Heather break down all the recent happenings in Cardinal Nation with the skill and approach you’d probably expect if you are a VEB reader. Find them on iTunes or check out the site!
Player: Jonathan Broxton
Season stats: 4-2, 4.30 ERA, 66 games, 60.2 IP, 52 H, 24 BB, 57 K, 1.253 WHIP, 4.10 FIP, 0.1 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 7
Overall grade: C-
Positives: Went almost a month (5/31 to 6/28) without giving up a run (12 innings)….all four times he threw two innings, they were both scoreless….was more effective away from Busch, limiting hitters to .181/.264/.276 and posting a 1.99 ERA….allowed just a .569 OPS in the first half….came out of the gate strong, putting up a 1.80 ERA in April….was strong with two outs, as batters hit just .187/.265/.240 then….pitched mainly in low leverage (154 of 259 PA) and had a .218/.268/.345 mark in those….batters hit just .190/.292/.286 when he pitched with a lead.
Negatives: Allowed two or more runs in nine of his 66 appearances….blew the two-run, seventh-inning lead in the last appearance, a crucial game against Pittsburgh, before winding up with a win due to the offense….gave up five runs in 1/3 of an inning against Arizona May 20 and his ERA never again was under 3.50….struggled in the second half, allowing hitters a .284/.321/.480 line and giving up five of his seven homers after the break….batters had an OPS of 1.047 against him in August….gave up four homers and a .253 average with nobody out….allowed a .268/.347/.415 line in 49 high-leverage plate appearances.
Overview: There were many heads being scratched last offseason when John Mozeliak gave Broxton a two-year deal after a mixed season and most of those questions weren’t answered (at least not positively) in 2016. When players like Miguel Socolovich and Sam Tuivailala could have been used for a significant savings, having Broxton on the team didn’t seem to be the best use of resources. There’s no doubt that Broxton came through a number of times, but perhaps his last two outings were the best synopsis–on Friday against the Pirates, he strikes out the side, on Saturday, he allows two runs and gives up the lead. Consistency didn’t seem to be in his arsenal.
Those ahead/behind splits are just really interesting, given that none of us tended to trust Broxton to come into a game with a lead, but that seems to be when he pitched his best. Maybe it’s the former closer in him, I don’t know. Of course, when he’s pitching in the sixth and seventh with a lead, that’s a little different than the ninth. His closing days are well past him, but he can be a solid piece of a bullpen. If he wasn’t getting $3.75 million next year, his basically replacement-level pitching would be easier to swallow.
Outlook: He’s signed for next year and the Cardinals don’t tend to like to eat contracts, so Broxton’s likely to at least start the season in the bullpen for St. Louis. There are a lot of arms that could go out there, though, and a slow start coupled with a need to find a spot for someone in Memphis might see Broxton go home by mid-season.