This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: James Naile
Stats: 0-0, 10 G, 15.1 IP, 27 H, 1 HR, 9 BB, 7 K, 8.80 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 2.348 WHIP, -0.6 bWAR
Statcast: 3.1% barrel, 35.9% sweet spot, 110.0 max exit velocity, .408 wOBA, .403 xwOBA, 8.8% K, 11.3% BB
When you ask the AI to generate an image for “the Memphis shuttle”, it shows you James Naile’s headshot.
Naile started in Memphis but celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a trip to the big club. That last less than two weeks, in which he had three appearances totaling 5.1 innings and an ERA that was deflated by the fact that three runs against him were unearned. The club decided to try their luck with Matthew Liberatore and Naile was hammered back to Memphis.
At the end of June, Jake Woodford went on the injured list and Naile was back, baby. This time he got into two games, one of which he rang up eight earned runs in 1.1 innings. When you are looking for a reason for that 8.80 ERA he posted, look no further. The next day there were a flurry of moves, one of which had Naile being pulled out of the majors.
About 10 days later he got to be the 27th man in a doubleheader but he didn’t pitch and went back the next day. He didn’t return until the first of August in the aftermath of the trades that ravaged the roster. This time he pitched in five games, posted an ERA of 5.87 (four runs in three innings to the Mets will have that effect), and again was dumped into the toolbox that was the AAA Redbirds. He returned for the last series when the club optioned Woodford, but never pitched. I don’t know if Naile got any sort of frequent flier miles or the like, but if not, he probably should really look into that.
On the one hand, Naile continued to get opportunities and he did put together a fairly solid season in Memphis. On the other, if you can’t stick in the middle of the worst Cardinal season in three decades, perhaps you aren’t really ever going to stick.
What’s in store for 2024: Unless the Cardinals decide they need room and give him his unconditional release, which is possible given that Naile is closing in on 31, he’ll be back in Memphis next year hoping to once again ride the Memphis shuttle with better results on the MLB terminus.