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: Dakota Hudson
Season stats: 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 2 G, 8.2 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 inherited runner, 0 inherited runners scored, 2.48 FIP, 0.923 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 0.3 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR
Statcast: .218 xwOBA, 0.0 barrel %, 80.1 exit velocity, 15.4 hard hit %, 17.6 K %, 2.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (63rd percentile)
Worst Statcast category: None
Positives: Returned to the big leagues almost exactly a year after his last start in 2020, which was followed by Tommy John surgery….threw five scoreless innings against the Cubs in his one start….was dominant through his five rehab starts, allowing two earned runs in 18.2 innings spread over three levels….kinda pointless to go through the splits when a starter throws less than 10 innings….allowed a .347 OPS when ahead in the count….locked down innings as hitters went 0-9 with two outs….batters were 0-8 (with a HBP) with runners in scoring position….didn’t allow a hit in five high leverage at bats….was strong in the first three innings, having a .129 average against in those frames….only faced the Cubs this year.
Negatives: Still has the low strikeout rate, striking out 10 in those 18.2 minor league innings as well….had a 4.91 ERA as a reliever, giving up two runs in 3.2 innings in relief of Jack Flaherty in his first appearance….ninth place hitters went 2-4 against him….the first two batters in the lineup went two for seven with both hits doubles….again, these were two games both against the Cubs, so keep that in mind….batters went 2-4 with a double on the first pitch….allowed a 1.005 OPS when there were no outs….the stamina wasn’t there yet, as he faded late in games….allowed a 1.171 OPS in the fifth inning….batters were 2-7 with a double after his 50th pitch.
Overview: The fact that Hudson was back pitching in the major leagues so quickly after his surgery is a testament not only to the advances in the medical community but also his hard work to make it happen. There’s not a lot you can take from the minor league rehab or the limited major league action except that Hudson looks like Dakota Hudson. The same sort of game, getting ground balls (65.4% of balls hit against him were on the ground) and striking out some but not a lot. Hudson definitely contributed in the couple of games he threw and it would have been interesting to see how they would have used him in the playoffs had the Cardinals advanced past the wild card game.
Outlook: I’ve always been a little leery of Hudson because of the low strikeout rate, but if there’s a team that he can thrive on, it’s one with five Gold Glovers behind him, including three on the infield and a shortstop (no matter if it is Paul DeJong or Edmundo Sosa) that’s not very far behind that level. The Cardinals have talked about adding pitching this winter, as the current rotation has plenty of openings, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hudson as the fourth or fifth starter next season. That said, if the Cards add multiple arms, he might get bumped to the bullpen. No matter the role, I imagine Hudson will have a large contribution to make on the 2022 team.