Exit Interview 2020: Seth Elledge

After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season.  They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post.  Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  This year, of course, was anything but typical.  So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative.  There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable.  As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!

Player: Seth Elledge

Season stats: 1-0, 4.63 ERA, 12 G, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 14 K, 5.33 FIP, 1.629 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 0.0 bWAR

Postseason stats: DNP

Statcast: 10.7% barrel %, 92.0 exit velocity, 46.4% hard hit %, .340 xwOBA

Best Statcast category: Did not qualify

Worst Statcast category: Did not qualify

Hero/Goat: Hero 1


Overview: Most likely, Seth Elledge would have made his major league debut in 2020 even if the world had never heard of COVID-19.  Not that he was a rising hot prospect, but he was doing well enough that he could have been a fresh arm in a rough patch or maybe been a mid-season callup with a good first half in Memphis.  The chaos of 2020 made it a guarantee that he’d be in the bigs and he made his debut August 16, right after the club returned from their quarantine, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings against the White Sox.

The numbers, most especially because of the small sample, are a bit skewed.  Elledge had two really rough outings, allowing two runs in less than an inning to the Cubs in his second appearance and three runs in an inning to the Royals in his last one of the year.  However, he was charged with just one run in the nine outings in between, good for a 1.17 ERA.  He had 14 strikeouts on the year, which was very good given his innings, but five of those came in his initial appearance against the Chicago southsiders.  That still leaves a strikeout an inning, though, which isn’t a terrible thing for a reliever to post.  He had eight walks on the year, but five of them came in back-to-back outings against the Cubs and Reds.

Basically, Elledge was a bit of a mixed bag.  You look at that hard hit percentage and cringe a bit, but when he’s on he’s a very effective reliever with strikeout capabilities.  He struggled against lefties, giving up both of his home runs to left-handed batters and allowing a 1.300 OPS against batters from that side, but given all the other options in the Cardinals bullpen to deal with lefties, that’s not the worst thing.  (Of course, with the three batter minimum, it’s hard to completely avoid facing batters from both sides.)  And here’s a quirk for you: Elledge only pitched three innings in Busch Stadium this season, yet that is where he got his only win.

Outlook: Elledge, whom the Cardinals got from the Mariners in exchange for Sam Tuivailala, probably will follow a similar path that his predecessor walked.  A good spring will have him go north with the Cardinals, a so-so one will have him start at Memphis.  Either way, he’s likely to ride the Memphis express back and forth as a fungible arm that can help but can also be cleared out for another one if necessary.  That is, of course, if there is a minor league season.  If not, Elledge will probably spend more time in St. Louis as he’s shown he can at least hold his own in the bigs.  Whether the league will adjust enough to change that sentence remains to be seen.

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