For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season. Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series. All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis. Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.
Player: Jordan Walden
Season stats: 0-1, 1 SV, 0.87 ERA, 12 games, 10.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 1.065 WHIP, 1.97 FIP, 0.6 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 1
Overall grade: A-
Positives: Was fairly dominant in his brief healthy time, allowing a run in just one outing….had a stretch of seven outings (spanning 5.1 innings) without a walk….his last outing indicated no problems, as he retired the side in order for his eighth hold….lefties hit just .125 with a .425 OPS against him….did not allow a single run at home (4.1 innings)….batters hit .167 on his first pitch.
Negatives: Got hurt at the end of April and, despite reports that he might be close to returning, never made it back to St. Louis this season….the first batter against him hit .333 and leadoff batters of an inning hit .400….allowed a .286 average when nobody was out in an inning….batters hit .308 in the medium-leverage situations….that .286 pops up again as hitters hit that against him in day games.
Overview: You have to wonder how much less work folks like Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness would have had to go through had Walden been healthy all year long. (Maybe none, actually–Siegrist was on pace to pitch in 84 games at the end of April, Maness 77.) That potent end of the pen would have been even more dangerous had Walden stayed pitching the way we saw him that first month of the year. Sadly, it didn’t happen. It probably wasn’t a huge turning point in the season to have him lost, but it sure didn’t help matters any. Then again, with a healthy Walden, perhaps Jonathan Broxton or Steve Cishek don’t make it to St. Louis. We’ll never know.
Outlook: In theory, Walden should be back and ready to go by spring training. Given that he’ll be in the second year of his two-year contract, the Cards sincerely hope he is. He should strengthen the back end of the bullpen, like he was supposed to do this year. Going Siegrist/Walden/Trevor Rosenthal to end games will be mean that the Cards can let their starters rest an inning or two here or there if they want to, because the game will be in good hands.