Exit Interview 2021: Kodi Whitley

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: Kodi Whitley

Season stats: 0-0, 2.49 ERA, 25 G, 25.1 IP, 15 H, 1 HR, 12 BB, 27 K, 16 inherited runners, 7 inherited runners scored, 2.97 FIP, 1.066 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 0.4 bWAR, 0.4 fWAR

Statcast: .279 xwOBA, 3.2 barrel %, 83.6 exit velocity, 24.2 hard hit %, 26.7 K %, 11.9 BB %

Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (57th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (45th percentile)

Hero/Goat: Goat 1

Grade: B

Positives: Did not allow a major league run after May 21st….only was scored upon in three of his outings….right-handed hitters had a .493 OPS against him….lefties weren’t much better (.504)….had a 1.29 ERA away from Busch Stadium….allowed a .400 OPS in 15 second-half innings….the middle of the lineup (third, fourth, fifth hitters) went a combined 2-20 with five walks and seven strikeouts….if batters took the first pitch they wound up hitting .151….they had an OPS under .400 if the count was even or if he was ahead….with two outs batters slashed .138/.167/.138….allowed just two hits in 27 plate appearances with runners in scoring position….gave up a .451 OPS in late and close situations….batters were 0-11 with two walks in high leverage situations….did not allow a run in four ninth innings….with a day of rest batters had a .259 OPS, though he had a 4.50 ERA (just four innings)….limited the Brewers to a .277 OPS….didn’t allow a run in six day innings.

Negatives: Spent all of June and some of July on the injured list….every time he was scored upon he allowed multiple runs….had a 3.97 ERA at home….had a 6.10 ERA in the first half….posted a 7.11 ERA in 6.1 May innings….had a 7.71 ERA in three games against the Cubs.

Overview: We saw a lot from Kodi Whitley in 2020 and, after a slow start, that came back in spades in 2021.  So much so that the smarter move in the ninth inning of the wild card game might well have been to go to him instead of Alex Reyes with the game on the line.  Whitley feels like one of those relievers that’s just quietly going to start getting more and more important assignments until you look up and he’s the best reliever on the team.  Sort of the way Giovanny Gallegos did things, you know?  That’s a lot to put on a guy that has a total of 30 big league innings, of course, but the trend line is there.

Outlook: Whitley spent some time in Memphis this year but it would be surprising if he has to do that next season.  I guess it depends on the bullpen makeup, who has options, etc., but I think 2022 might be the season that Whitley solidifies his spot and produces all year in the major leagues.

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