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: Sam Tuivailala
Season stats: 3-3, 3.69 ERA, 31 G, 31.2 IP, 35 H, 3 HR, 11 BB, 26 K, 3.98 FIP, 1.453 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 0.1 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 2
Overall grade: B
Positives: Had a stretch of 5.2 scoreless innings in May, though he allowed two inherited runners to score in that span….was not charged with a run in 21 of his 31 appearances….ended his Cardinal career with 3.2 scoreless frames….righties had a .528 OPS against him….had a 2.70 ERA in road games, though two of the three homers he allowed came away from home….had a 1.00 ERA in nine second-half innings….had a 1.69 ERA in May….batters hit .237 against him in June….batters in the second position in the lineup put up a .486 OPS against him….cleanup hitters hit .083 against him….if batters swung at the first pitch, he had a 10.0 K/BB ratio and they had a .640 OPS….limited batters to a .243 OPS when he was ahead in the count….batters hit .146 with two outs….batters hit .216 with runners in scoring position….the OPS was .557 when there were two outs and RISP….had a 0.00 ERA in 1.2 ninth innings….batters had a .633 OPS after 25 pitches….the Cubs had a .498 OPS against him.
Negatives: Allowed three runs in 1/3 of an inning to the Reds in July….allowed two runs three different times for the Cardinals….left-handers slashed .356/.457/.593 against him….had a 4.24 ERA at home….had a 4.18 ERA in the first half….sixth-place batters had a 1.188 OPS against him….batters hit .389 on the first pitch….in seven plate appearances with a 1-0 count, allowed five hits including two doubles….when the batter was ahead he allowed a 1.385 OPS….all three of his home runs came with one out, when batters had an OPS of 1.060….low leverage situations saw batters put up a .848 OPS….had a 5.23 ERA in the seventh inning….the Brewers hit .391 against him.
Overview: There were moments where Tuivailala looked like he’d finally made that final step to being competent-to-dominant reliever, only to see him take a step back. Overall, it was a good season and he probably would have stayed in St. Louis had he not been out of options. The bullpen makeover that came at the end of July, though, focused a lot of flexibility and Tui didn’t fit the bill, so he was dealt to Seattle for Seth Elledge, whom Kyle Reis has termed a similar pitcher but who wasn’t on the 40-man and as such as all his options if necessary. Tui seemed to enjoy the change of scenery (1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings for the Mariners) and I think most Cardinal fans wish him well with his new team.
Outlook: With that small of a sample, it remains to be seen how Tui is going to do in the American League and, with Jerry Dipoto as his GM, you never know how long his stint in the Emerald City will be anyway. Still, there’s no particular reason to think he can’t be a solid performer for the Mariners next year in a middle relief role, even if he can’t ever get enough results to eye the ninth.