Exit Interview 2019: Genesis Cabrera

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.

If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez.  Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site.  My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast.  It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug.  So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!

Player: Genesis Cabrera

Season stats: 0-2, 1 SV, 4.87 ERA, 13 G, 20.1 IP, 23 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 19 K, 4.54 FIP, 1.672 WHIP, 8..4 K/9, -0.4 bWAR

Statcast: 6.0% barrel %, 87.0 exit velocity, 31.3% hard hit %, .342 xwOBA

Hero/Goat: Hero 1

Overall grade: C

Positives: Made his major league debut on May 29, going 3.2 innings in a start against the Phillies….got a save in his first appearance after returning to the bigs in September with three scoreless innings against the Giants….was not charged with a run in five of his eight September appearances….righties had an OPS of .623 against him….had a 3.55 ERA at home….had a 3.12 ERA in the second half (all in September)….batters had a .590 OPS against him in September….batters hit .217 against him when he was a reliever….struck out 14 batters in 12 relief innings….batters hit worse when they were ahead in the count (.222), though they usually wound up walking (.500 OBP)….allowed a .408 OPS to the first batter he faced….batters hit .217 with runners in scoring position….had a .602 OPS in low-leverage situations….was strong in his first 25 pitches, allowing a .204/.322/224 line….had a 2.89 ERA against plus-.500 teams….had a 1.80 ERA in June in Memphis….threw 1.2 scoreless innings in the playoffs.

Negatives: That major league debut saw him allowing five runs….walked 11 in 99 plate appearances, a rate that lessened in his second time around (4 in 40 PA) but was still alarming….had a 6.17 ERA in the first half of the season….second-place hitters hit .400 against him….batters hit .391 and had an OPS of 1.049 if they swung at the first pitch….they had a 1.319 OPS if they put the first pitch in play….batters had a .964 OPS with one out in an inning….batters hit .316/.381/.474 in high leverage situations….allowed a .325 BAA after the first 25 pitches….had a 5.91 ERA at Memphis….that included a 9.00 ERA in August….gave up a .345 BAA when behind in the count at AAA.

Overview: Cabrera is going to have a big burden given that he was the principal reason Tommy Pham is playing in Tampa Bay these days.  (Pham hit .273 with 21 homers this year, which isn’t going to help Cabrera much.)  Cabrera’s stuff is electric, but as can be seen here (and, if you follow the Statcast link, on the pitch maps there), control is the biggest issue.  When batters can sit on his fastball, things don’t go well.  He can strike out one in five but when he walks one in 10, that doesn’t go as far.

Still, there’s no doubt that the club wants to give Cabrera plenty of rope.  When he came back in September as a reliever, it seemed to help him be able to go out there and get the best out of his repertoire in short bursts.  Whether that will be how they use him going forward or not still remains to be seen, but the fact that he made the postseason roster over someone like John Gant makes you think they still hold him in high regard.

Outlook: Cabrera is probably going to spend some time at Memphis next year, especially if his control doesn’t look great in Jupiter or flares up as a problem in the early part of the season.  I hope that they’ll continue to see if he can be a starter but there may not be a long leash for that idea.  Another tough April and May in that role and it’s going to be hard to imagine him not transitioning to the bullpen.  Whatever the case, when he can throw strikes on a regular basis, things will be very, very bright for this young man.

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