One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Drew VerHagen
Season stats: 3-1, 1 SVO, 6.65 ERA, 19 G, 21.2 IP, 27 H, 5 HR, 14 BB, 18 K, 10 IR, 1 IRS, 6.53 FIP, 1.892 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, -0.8 bWAR, -0.6 fWAR
Statcast: .378 xwOBA, 9.6 barrel %, 88.3 exit velocity, 34.2 hard hit %, 17.0 K %, 13.2 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Spin (81st percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Curve Spin (16th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Goat 2
Positives: Stranded runners at a high rate, allowing only one to score….had a good May, posting a 2.08 ERA and allowing a .719 OPS….second place hitters had a .398 OPS….batters hit .222 against him leading off an inning….they hit .241 with runners in scoring position….allowed a .048 average with the slider.
Negatives: Gave up a run in each of his first three Cardinal appearances….gave up runs in more appearances (10) than not (9)….allowed three runs twice and neither time went two innings….allowed four homers in 66 plate appearances against righties….lefties had a .353/.450/.471 line….gave up three homers in nine innings at Busch Stadium….did not pitch in the majors in the second half….eighth place hitters had a 1.722 OPS and third and fourth hitters both had OPS over 1.300….batters hit .333 and had a .985 OPS if they took the first pitch….was on the injured list three times before the first half was over….batters had a 1.500 OPS in 10 plate appearances where the action happened on the first pitch….allowed a .667 OPS when ahead in the count….gave up a .988 OPS with two outs in an inning….had a .958 OPS in high leverage situations….batters hit .319 on his first 25 pitches….allowed a 1.125 OPS in eight plate appearances against the Cubs….had an 8.31 ERA against the Brewers….batters hit .370 off the sinker and .500 against the four-seam fastball….pitched only 1.2 innings at Memphis and allowed a run.
Overview: The Cardinals signed VerHagen right after the lockout was over, bringing him home after two years in Japan. With the club’s pretty solid track record signing pitchers from the Asian leagues, especially in their first year, there were some high hopes for VerHagen, even though he’d been no great shakes before he left for overseas. Whatever the front office saw from his time in Japan, it sure didn’t make it through customs. Maybe it’s part of the supply chain issues that his stuff never made it to the big leagues. You can fault injuries for some of it, of course, given how much time he spent out on the IL, but it’s hard to set everything that line above entails on that doorstep. After the season he and Aaron Brooks have, there might be an examination of how the overseas section of the front office has changed and struggled after having such success.
Outlook: If injuries played the biggest part in VerHagen’s fall, it’s possible that the Cardinals will get some return on their investment in year 2 of their deal, which would be the opposite of their track record. He’s only set to make $3 million next season, however, so there’s no guarantee they won’t set him loose if they feel like they need the roster spot. More likely, though, he’ll come to Jupiter hoping to show he’s healthy and that he can contribute to the bullpen.