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: Giovanny Gallegos
Season stats: 3-2, 1 SV, 2.31 ERA, 66 G, 74 IP, 44 H, 9 HR, 16 BB, 93 K, 3.05 FIP, 0.811 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.2 bWAR
Statcast: 7.8% barrel %, 88.4 exit velocity, 35.5% hard hit %, .253 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 4
Overall grade: A
Positives: Got people talking less and less about the Luke Voit trade being a loss for the Cardinals, which was nice….pitched more major league innings than in his first two years combined, about double as many….batters hit just .170 against him for the year….limited lefties to a .518 OPS….had a .196 BAA on the road with a .450 OPS….had a 1.89 ERA in the second half, which would have been even better had he not tailed off a bit in September….had an ERA under 0.70 in both June and July….cleanup hitters hit .136/.240/.273 against him….batters had a .511 OPS if they took the first pitch….batters had a .415 OPS if the count finished even….the first batter he faced hit .148….allowed a .501 OPS with two outs in an inning….batters hit .125 with runners in scoring position….dominated the bases loaded situation, as batters slashed .083/.143/.167 in that game setting….gave up a .385 OPS with two outs and RISP….in 5.2 innings with no days’ rest, put up a 0.00 ERA and a .143 BAA….faced the Cubs more than anyone (11 innings) and allowed a .231 BAA….batters had an OPS of .368 after he threw 25 pitches….gave up one run in 4.1 innings in the playoffs.
Negatives: Scuffled a bit down the stretch, posting a 4.05 ERA over the last two weeks….batters had a .656 OPS against him at Busch Stadium….had a 2.66 ERA in the first half….batters hit .200 and had a .799 OPS in September….had a 3.95 ERA in May….the first two batters in the lineup got to him for a .707 OPS….batters hit .200 on the first pitch….gave up five of his nine homers when he was ahead in the count and six came when there were no balls in the count….allowed a .599 OPS with one out in an inning….had a 6.35 ERA against the Brewers.
Overview: There was a hint that Gallegos could be this kind of weapon last year. He only had an inning in the bigs but his numbers in the minors made you think he could be a strikeout option in the majors. That turned out to be the case and then some in 2019. His strikeout rate was in the top 8% of the league. He came into big situations and wriggled out unscathed. It took Mike Shildt a while to realize what he was, but once he did, there was really nobody he’d rather use in a non-traditional situation. With Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez usually factoring into the late innings, Gallegos could be a true fireman, coming in whenever the game might be on the line.
Honestly, it’s a little surprising that the only save he had came in September and that one was after Martinez had pitched and blown a three-run lead, only to see Matt Carpenter homer in the top of the 10th. Given his arm and ability, many teams would have pigeonholed him into a late inning job, but Shildt saw he could be a force at any time and his usage was one of the major differences between the current regime and what we’d been used to in regards to bullpen management.
Outlook: Relievers are volatile and have a short shelf life, but with the tools that Gallegos has, there’s no reason to think that there’s going to be a serious regression anytime soon. With Martinez moving to the rotation, there will be an opening at the end of games, at least until Jordan Hicks is healthy and ready to go, and Gallegos could easily fill it. However, I’d much rather him be used as he was in 2019, floating around, putting out the big fires, and generally making fans breathe a bit easier.