Exit Interview 2017: Matt Bowman

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Matthew Bowman

Season stats: 3-6, 2 SV, 3.99 ERA, 75 games, 58.2 IP, 52 H, 18 BB, 46 K, 1.193 WHIP, 3.65 FIP, 0.2 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Goat 3

Overall grade: B

Positives: Began the season with a 9.2 inning scoreless streak, not allowing a run of his own until April 25….was good against both types of hitters, allowing an OPS of .687 to righties and .623 to lefties….allowed just one home run in 136 plate appearances outside of St. Louis….batters hit .228 against him in the first half….had an ERA between 2.00 and 2.75 in three of the six months….held hitters to a .189 average when he got two strikes on them….limited the first batter he faced to a .490 OPS….batters had a .167 average and a .556 OPS when he went on no days’ rest.

Negatives: Notably slumped in the second half, posting a 4.22 ERA and a 1.67 K/BB rate….actually had his OPS against increase with the more rest he had, even as his K/9 improved….was sometimes used as a ground ball specialist even though only 55% of balls hit against him ended up that way….had a 4.35 ERA during day games….gave up seven runs in one combined inning over two days in Colorado….allowed 50% of his inherited runners to score after the trade deadline.

Overview: As the joke goes, it’s likely if you drive by Busch Stadium right this very moment, well into November, you’ll find Matt Bowman out there warming up.  There were few arms that Mike Matheny trusted more than Bowman, even if he deployed him in strange situations at times.  (He did get seven double plays turned behind him, but it doesn’t feel like he’s Seth Maness or anything.) Bowman got more than a day’s rest only 27 times this season (not counting his first appearance of the year) and those days were pretty bunched up in the second half.

For all that, Bowman was pretty serviceable.  You look at the overall numbers and see that he gave up a similar number of walks and earned runs in fewer innings and you don’t care for how that’s trending.  Bowman’s never going to be much more than a middle inning arm and you could argue the Cardinals have already gotten the best out of him.  You have to give him credit, though.  We never expected that a Rule 5 pickup would be the linchpin to the bullpen for two straight years, but he’s done all he can to be a reliable arm out of the pen.  Not everyone is closer material and you need these kind of guys out there to get some big outs in the middle of games.

Outlook: The track record of being “Matheny’s bullpen guy” isn’t great.  Both Maness and Kevin Siegrist were ridden hard and never were the same afterwards.  You have to feel like Bowman’s in line to be the next one of those cases.  75 appearances is well over a career high since he used to be a starter and the idea that won’t affect 2018 is an unlikely one.  Counting on Bowman to be what he’s been the last couple of years is a dangerous proposition.  He still has value out there in the bullpen but hopefully the Cardinals will put some more reliable arms out there to keep him from being overused yet again.

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