As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Luis Garcia
Season stats: 1-1, 2 SV, 3 SVO, 3.24 ERA, 34 G, 33.1 IP, 25 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 34 K, 10 inherited runners, 4 inherited runners scored, 2.72 FIP, 0.990 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 0.3 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR
Statcast: .278 xwOBA, 6.5 barrel %, 89.8 exit velocity, 45.7 hard hit %, 25.2 K %, 5.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (99th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Fastball Spin (34th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 2
Positives: Was picked up on waivers in July and almost immediately provided stability to a bullpen that desperately needed it….from his fourth outing until his 26th he allowed no runs….that span of 25.1 innings included 23 strikeouts and only four walks….batters hit .157 during the scoreless streak….limited right-handed batters to a .368 OPS and no home runs….had a 1.76 ERA away from Busch….gave up a .113 average in the month of August….second place hitters had a .121 OPS against him….hitters had a .362 OPS if they swung at the first pitch….if he was ahead in the count batters had a .222 OPS….allowed a .120 batting average with runners in scoring position….hitters slashed .152/.211/.303 in high leverage situations….had a 1.29 ERA on zero days’ rest…the Brewers hit .185 with only one extra base hit against him.
Negatives: Got off on the wrong foot with his new team, allowing six runs in his first inning of work spanning three appearances….may have hit a bit of a wall in September as he allowed six runs in his last seven innings….lefties figured him out to a .289/.353/.511 tune and both homers came from the sinister folks….had a 4.50 ERA at Busch, though he struck out more than one batter per inning there….third place hitters had a 1.186 OPS against him….gave up a .732 OPS with two outs in an inning….the Cubs had a 1.256 OPS against him, including getting him for two runs in his final appearance.
Overview: On the face of it, the injection of Garcia and T.J. McFarland wouldn’t have seemed to be the stabilizing force the shaky June bullpen needed but it absolutely was. We talk so often about players that underperform on the Cardinals but blossom elsewhere, but don’t think think Yankee fans would have liked to see him in their bullpen? I think it’s fair to also give credit to the Cardinal coaching staff, who identified Garcia’s strengths and got him to focus on his sinker and slider. In my opinion (and it’s not that controversial) Mike Shildt should have moved Garcia to important innings well before he actually did, but the important thing is that eventually he started locking down the sixth and seventh and providing some much needed cardiac relief to the fan base.
Outlook: Garcia is a free agent but I imagine the Cardinals will do their best to re-sign him this winter. Relievers are a little dicey and you hate to go overboard on a good year, but a one-year contract with an option for 2024 would seem to be a smart move, especially since it seems like Garcia really did change his game. However, he’ll also be 35 next season, which is a bit of a red flag as well. Still, I think if you were going to bring one of the mid-season acquisitions back, it’s probably Garcia.