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 Two Birds on a Bat. One of the more recent shows I’ve found, these guys are a bit of a throwback, just three guys talking about the game (though with a professional-sounding show). Plus they regularly have Bengie Molina weighing in. Find them on iTunes or check out their site!
Player: Alex Reyes
Season stats: 4-1, 1 SV, 1.57 ERA, 12 games, 46 IP, 33 H, 23 BB, 52 K, 1.217 WHIP, 2.67 FIP, 2.2 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 1
Overall grade: A
Positives: Made his major league debut on August 9, retiring all three Reds including his first strikeout….didn’t allow a run until his sixth appearance (and that one was an inherited runner Zach Duke allowed to score)….in his third major league start threw seven scoreless innings against San Francisco….moved between the bullpen and the rotation with no significant issues….limited right-handers to a .170 average….batters hit just .188 against him at home….had an 0.98 ERA in five games in St. Louis….batters hit just .201 against him overall….had an 0.52 ERA as a reliever but had more command as a starter….batters hit .184 when they swung at the first pitch….allowed a .438 OPS with runners in scoring position….batters hit .178 against him in high-leverage situations….the Cubs hit just .190 off of him.
Negatives: Started his season late as he finished up a suspension for marijuana use….lefties hit .243 against him and had both of the triples he allowed….players hitting first nicked him for a .412/.545/.588 line….the first batter he faced went .364/.417/.364….had 27 PA when he’d thrown over 75 pitches and hitters had an .829 OPS….six of his 23 walks came in one relief outing (4.1 innings) against the Cubs….had a 4.96 ERA in Memphis and allowed five or more runs in an AAA outing three times.
Overview: We kept hearing about how good Alex Reyes was and he did not disappoint in his first limited big league exposure. Reyes was a dominant force out of the bullpen, though the fact he needed to be carefully managed (i.e., not on back-to-back days or the like) did limit his usefulness and required Matheny to be very strategic in his use. Reyes threw 100 without any appreciable effort and his breaking pitches were astounding as well. The league just wasn’t ready for him and it showed in his game log. The Cubs were the only team to get three runs off of him (on September 24) but he had a 4-0 lead before he even took the mound. Tough to know if focus was an issue there or the fact it was the third time the Cubs had seen him in his short career. Whatever the case, when Reyes took the mound, people stopped. It was a great feeling to have such a dominant player wearing the birds on the bat.
Outlook: Reyes finished 2016 four innings short of rookie status, meaning that he qualifies for the 2017 Rookie of the Year award and likely will be one of the front-runners. It would not be surprising, however, if the Cardinals started him in the bullpen given the number of arms that they have in their system. That would let them sort out who should be in the rotation while limiting Reyes’s innings, something that likely will be a focal point next season. Still, the idea of a rotation fronted by Carlos Martinez and Reyes has fans drooling about what is to come.