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: John Brebbia
Season stats: 3-4, 3.59 ERA, 66 G, 72.2 IP, 59 H, 6 HR, 27 BB, 87 K, 3.13 FIP, 1.183 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 0.8 bWAR
Statcast: 5.3% barrel %, 87.8 exit velocity, 37.7% hard hit %, .280 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Goat 4
Overall grade: B
Positives: Spent all year in the majors and solidified his role in the bullpen….limited righties to a .212 average and lefties hit only .225….gave up a .619 OPS away from Busch….had a 3.38 ERA on the road….batters hit just .199 against him in the first half….had a 2.40 ERA in July….came out of the game strong, posting a 0.55 ERA in 16.1 March and April innings….allowed a .390 OPS when facing third place hitters….batters hit .186 when they swung at the first pitch….when they put the first pitch in play, they had a .464 OPS….batters had a .545 OPS when they were behind in the count….batters had a .179/.231/.214 line with one out in an inning….gave up a .546 OPS in low leverage situations….when he threw over 25 pitches, batters hit .160/.276/.200….was stronger the more rest he had, allowing a .516 OPS with four days of rest…had a 2.89 ERA in 9.1 innings against the Brewers….threw two scoreless innings against the Braves in the NLDS.
Negatives: Struggled down the stretch, allowing a .368/.478/.526 line over the last two weeks….gave up two runs in one NLCS inning….gave up three home runs to lefties and to righties, but lefties had 100 fewer AB against him….had a 4.30 ERA in the second half….had an 8.71 ERA in June and a 7.36 ERA in September….cleanup hitters had a 1.000 OPS against him, though he didn’t walk any of them….batters hit .241 when they were ahead in the count….gave up five of his home runs with nobody out….allowed an .866 OPS with runners in scoring position….in 21 plate appearances with two outs and runners on first and second, allowed a .353/.476/.647 line….batters had a .946 OPS with two outs and RISP….three of the home runs allowed came in late and close situations….allowed a .916 OPS and two homers in high-leverage situations….had an 11.81 ERA against the Cubs.
Overview: Brebbia, like most relievers, seemed to be mercurial this season. He threw more innings than he ever had before–about 10 more than he threw at all levels last year. When he was off, he was off, and there is some thought that he was used too heavily early on. He did throw 40% of his innings on the year in April and May and his strong July came after a June where he threw fewer innings than he did in any other month save September.
On the whole, Brebbia was a reliable piece and a guy that you wanted to see Mike Shildt go to. Games that had the starter go six, Brebbia take the seventh, then finish up with Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez could easily be a Cardinal victory. However, when you look at some of those splits (and, of course, you have to take them with a grain of salt since they are pretty small samples), you wonder if the Cardinals don’t need to find someone else that can be a seventh/eighth inning guy and use Brebbia in some less-tense situations.
Outlook: Brebbia is still under team control, not reaching arbitration until after next season. That makes 2020 a pretty important season for the personable, beard-growing reliever. A less-than-stellar season puts him in a position where he could be let go as a non-tender. For right now, though, you will see him back as a key part of the bullpen and hopefully he’ll continue to take those steps to become a more reliable option.