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: Alex Reyes
Season stats: 0-1, 15.00 ERA, 4 G, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 6 BB, 1 K, 12.88 FIP, 2.667 WHIP, 3.0 K/9, -0.4 bWAR
Statcast: 0.0% barrel %, 90.2 exit velocity, 50.0% hard hit %, .465 xwOBA
Hero/Goat: Goat 1
Overall grade: D
Positives: Returned to the major leagues after having thrown only four innings the two years prior in major league competition….threw a perfect inning in his first frame back….lefties went 0-4 against him, though they walked twice….batters had an OPS of .543 on the road….if batters took the first pitch, they had a .444 OPS….batters had a .400 OPS (on two walks) with one out….did not give up a hit in low or medium leverage situations (walked two)….limited the Brewers to 0-5 with a walk in two appearances.
Negatives: Walked six batters in three innings sums up a lot….also had a wild pitch in there….had a 7.39 ERA in 28 innings at Memphis, giving up 24 walks and 27 hits….righties had a 1.433 OPS against him….threw one inning at Busch, where he was charged with three runs….batters had a 1.333 OPS if they swung at the first pitch….they were 2-5 with a homer when they hit the first pitch….had one at bat with two outs and a runner in scoring position and allowed a home run….allowed a 1.379 OPS in late and close situations….ended the year on the injured list yet again.
Overview: Three years. Uber-prospect Alex Reyes missed all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery, and while everyone was disappointed, there was still a strong bit of hope that he could return to some level of dominance, especially given his youth. Then in 2018, he returned to the bigs, threw four innings, and then was lost for the rest of the year due to a tear of his right lat tendon which required surgery. He was ready to go in spring training and made the Opening Day roster, but his wildness quickly led to a demotion. He wound up going on Memphis’s IL soon after due to punching a hard object after another disappointing outing, but that wasn’t enough for his annual injury woes. He walked off the mound in discomfort June 23 against Oklahoma City and was diagnosed with a pectoral injury, one that lingered enough to keep him out the rest of the year, though that determination wasn’t made until late in the summer.
What we did see out of Reyes showed that not pitching more than a few rehab games for two years leads to some degradation of skills, at least command. He still had a lot of ability–Statcast indicated his fastball was at 97, his sinker about that, but he couldn’t put them or the offspeed pitches regularly in the strike zone. His time in Memphis didn’t show a lot of improvement in that regard, though he did strike out 10 and 9 in two of the three starts before getting injured. (He walked four and three in those starts as well, though.) The dream of Reyes being one of the top pitchers in baseball is getting really, really hard to see these days.
Outlook: I’ve heard Kyle Reis say that you basically have to forget Reyes, to count on him for nothing, and I think that’s really the best way to go about it. You hope that the young man, who has been through so much himself and with his baby daughter’s cancer battle, can find a way to stay healthy and get back to where he was in 2016. If he can, the Cardinals can find a place for him. If he can’t, he may be the biggest “what if” case for a Cardinal pitcher since Rick Ankiel.