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: Packy Naughton
Stats: 0-0, 4 G, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.86 FIP, 0.600 WHIP, 0.2 bWAR
Statcast: 9.1% barrel, 27.3% sweet spot, 106.4 max exit velocity, .166 wOBA, .258 xwOBA, 29.4% K, 5.9% BB
Packy Naughton did more in five innings than some pitchers did all year. What else would you expect from the Patron Pitcher of the Blog?
Naughton (who was just .1 bWAR behind luminaries such as Tyler O’Neill, Jordan Hicks, and Giovanny Gallegos) carried his strong 2022 into the first few games of the 2023 season. He started off strong, going 2.1 innings against the Blue Jays and acquiring a couple of strikeouts, then a pair of one inning, one strikeout outings against the Braves. He went 2/3rds of an inning against the Brewers before leaving with a forearm strain that, at the time, was hoped not to be serious.
It was. In June, good old #70 was done for the year after surgery on his flexor tendon, a surgery that isn’t Tommy John but doesn’t exactly have a quick recovery time either. Naughton’s solid work from the left side surely would have been a valuable asset in a season that needed every possible good arm.
What’s in store for 2024: The Cardinals activated him from the 60-day IL at the end of the season, but then outrighted him to Memphis right before the Rule 5 deadline. He’s still in the organization, and since it is unlikely that Naughton will be fully ready to go by Opening Day (though we may see him get some limited work in spring training), the move made some sense. Hopefully that beautiful 70 will be back on the mound sooner rather than later with Naughton filling a solid role in the ’24 pen.