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: Dean Kiekhefer
Season stats: 0-0, 5.32 ERA, 26 games, 22 IP, 24 H, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.409 WHIP, 4.28 FIP, 0.0 bWAR
Overall grade: C
Positives: Made his big league debut on May 14….gave us just one run in his first 5.1 innings in the bigs….had a 6-1 mark and a 2.08 ERA in Memphis….save a terrible outing in Coors Field, had a strong September (2.35 ERA)….held lefties to a .209/.261/.326 mark….had exactly the same number of plate appearances in each half, but the second half OPS dropped to .719 from .771….batters had a .490 OPS on his first pitch….opposing hitters had a .182 mark with nobody on and a .063 rate when there was a runner on first….had a .219/.261/.313 line against him in night games….had a 2.02 ERA when throwing to Yadier Molina.
Negatives: Allowed four runs in two of his 26 games….righties hit .333/.404/.489….had a 6.75 ERA on the road, which was partially skewed by the four runs in a third of an inning in Coors….batters hit .303 off of him in September….if batters took his first pitch, they wound up hitting .294/.377/.441 in the at bat….allowed a .536/.600/.821 line with runners in scoring position, which is probably part of the reason all but 11 of his PA were in low leverage situations….batters had a .963 OPS against him on zero days’ rest, leading to a 11.57 ERA….had a 13.50 ERA in 2.2 innings against the Cubs.
Overview: Kiekhefer was another name that I at least was not familiar with when the year started, but he came in to help out in the bullpen and, for the most part, was passible. As you heard if you listened to my conversation with Davis Ward on the latest Conversations, Kiekhefer’s a pretty solid person but he’s a control specialist that’s not going to blow anyone away. There’s a place for those kind of guys in the majors, don’t get me wrong, but when they don’t have the experience or the command, there’s a good chance that they are going to be hit around. Kiekhefer’s 27, so this is probably what you are going to get, but that’s not a terrible thing.
Outlook: It would seem that Kiekhefer is likely to get real familiar with the Memphis shuttle over the next year or so. If he can use his experience to develop and be more consistent with his pitches, he could turn into a left-handed specialist, though I still don’t think we want to see him facing Anthony Rizzo any time soon. (Though, for reference, Rizzo’s one hit in the two AB against Kiekhefer was just a single.) He’ll come to spring hoping to crack the starting bullpen and may be able to do so, but it would be pretty surprising if he stayed all year in the big leagues. I thought he’d be doing that for St. Louis, but the Cardinals put him on waivers and the Mariners claimed him, so he’ll probably ride the Tacoma/Seattle shuttle.