Exit Interview: Sam Tuivailala

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: Sam Tuivailala

Season stats: 0-0, 6.00 ERA, 12 games, 9 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 7 K, 2.000 WHIP, 4.26 FIP, -0.0 bWAR

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: C-

Positives: Allowed no runs in nine of his 12 outings….pitched three scoreless innings in September….limited hitters to .100 BAA in September….batters hit .258 when they took the first pitch….batters had a .167 BAA when they had two strikes….batters had a .688 OPS with runners in scoring position….allowed no hits in three medium-leverage at bats (but did give up a walk and a HBP)….did not allow any runs in the seventh or eighth innings….batters hit .267 against him in the daytime.

Negatives: Only pitched in two wins in his 12 games and in neither of those games did he record an out….righties had a .458 OBP against him….gave up an .804 OPS in Busch….walked four batters in three September innings….did not pitch in any high leverage situations….batters hit .500 (4-8) when they swung at the first pitch….allowed a 1.183 OPS to the first batter he faced….batters had a 1.071 OPS in the seven PA with two outs and runners in scoring position….had a 16.20 ERA in the ninth inning….had a 5.21 ERA at Memphis.

Overview: If Tui could have been more successful in Memphis this season, he’d have probably gotten more than nine innings at the major league level.  Of course, if he’d been more effective in the bigs, he might have gotten more chances as well.  His first appearance for the Cardinals in 2016, he allowed three runs and got nobody out, jeopardizing a 9-4 Cardinals lead against the Brewers.  While it got somewhat better, his erratic control helped make sure he never saw any significant playing time.  The fastball seems to be there, but there’s not much else to go with it.  We know from the years of Maikel Cleto that just because you can throw hard doesn’t mean that you’ll be successful in the major leagues.  His step back in Memphis, where he was for the third year, isn’t exactly a great sign either.

Outlook: It looks like Tuivailala has one more option remaining, so he’ll get another shot at it next year.  He turned 24 after the season so he’s still young and raw, but his time in the Cardinal organization would seem to be running out.  He’ll need to be more in control with his pitches next year to see much time in St. Louis.

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