Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Matthew Bowman
Season stats: 0-2, 6.26 ERA, 22 G, 23 IP, 29 H, 4 HR, 11 BB, 26 K, 4.73 FIP, 1.739 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, -0.6 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 1
Overall grade: D
Positives: With all his issues, did have a double-digit K/9 rate….allowed the fewest runs in a season than he ever had before (just, unfortunately, in a career-few innings)….didn’t give up a home run to a right-handed batter in the majors….was very good at Busch, limiting batters to a .205 average under the Arch….limited leadoff hitters to a .282 OPS, including one hit in 10 AB….batters hit just .143 when he was ahead in the count….hitters had just a .683 OPS in medium-leverage situations….pitched pretty well in the 7th inning, with a .217/.250/.348 line in 6.1 innings….batters had a .635 OPS against him in the seventh through ninth innings….in 11 PA when he threw more than 25 pitches, batters had a .143/.455/.143 line (three walks in that span will kick up the OBP).
Negatives: Gave up three runs on Opening Day to the Mets and things really never got better after that….Bowman was on the major league DL twice and the minor league DL once dealing with blisters and other issues….He was optioned to the minor leagues for the first time since becoming a Cardinal on July 5, just nine days before the manager change….was brought up to pitch two games in the Chicago series after the break but allowed three runs in 2.2 innings over two days and was sent back to Memphis….left-handers had a 1.006 OPS against him in the bigs….batters had a 1.035 OPS against him when he was on the road, which worked out to a 9.24 road ERA….batters got to him for a .319 mark in April….third-place hitters slashed .364/.417/.818 off of him….batters hit .370 when they swung at the first pitch….they had a 1.077 OPS when the at bat ended after one pitch….he allowed a .323 BA with runners in scoring position….batters had a 1.000 OPS with two outs and RISP.
Overview: I don’t know that anyone expected Matt Bowman to be the lynchpin of the bullpen, save maybe a former manager, but it was still surprising to see how rough he was this year. It would seem fair to blame some of the issues on overuse, especially since “stress” seems to be one of the causes of Reynaud’s Disease, which is what led to Bowman’s finger issues. Bowman should never be a high-leverage guy and the idea that he was some sort of double play machine like Seth Maness never had any basis in fact, but you could make a case for him being the 12th guy on a staff, especially if he was handled better than he was in the past.
Outlook: That said, the 40-man roster is crowded and some folks are going to have to come off of it. Even if Bowman was expected to return to his old self, which is not something you can guarantee, for better or worse he’s a huge reminder of the Mike Matheny era and, given how much this team looked to make a fresh start, that’s probably also going to count against him. As I write this no decisions have been made, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him non-tendered, but I imagine someone else that needs some pitching might give him a minor league contract to see if his health problems are behind him. (EDIT: Cincinnati claimed Bowman off of waivers and if there’s anyone that needs pitching, it’s Cincy.)