Exit Interview 2017: Sam Tuivailala

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Sam Tuivailala

Season stats: 3-3, 2.55 ERA, 37 games, 42.1 IP, 35 H, 11 BB, 34 K, 1.087 WHIP, 3.70 FIP, 0.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: B

Positives: Spent more time in the majors than ever before, with more games this year than the rest of his career combined….was not charged with a run in 25 of his 37 appearances….ended the season with four scoreless outings….did not allow a single inherited runner to score, though that was made easier by the fact that he never entered the game with a runner on….all four homers were solo….lefties (.222) hit one point lower against him than righties, though they had a higher OPS (.693)….had a 1.86 ERA away from Busch….gave up one run over 10 innings in June and July….third-place hitters hit .176/.300/.294 against him….batters hit .188 on the first pitch….they hit .159 when he was ahead in the count….had a .575 OPS against in high leverage situations….in 34 plate appearances with runners in scoring position: .111/.273/.111….the Brewers hit .077 against him….had a 1.80 ERA on zero days’ rest….had a 1.27 ERA and six saves in Memphis.

Negatives: Had a 3.97 ERA in August….lineup leadoff hitters got him for a .375 average….batters had a .875 when the count was even….had a .314 BAA in close and late situations….in 28 high leverage plate appearances, put up a .391/.500/.565 line….had a 4.15 ERA on one day of rest….in six plate appearances with two outs and runners on first and second, allowed three hits.

Overview: Overall, it was a very solid season for Tuivailala.  The problem was that he tended to stub his toe at just the wrong time.  About the time Mike Matheny would trust him with a situation of higher importance, he’d go out and have a bad outing.  Then it was back to the far reaches of the bullpen.  Even with his success, he threw just four times between September 1 and September 20, for instance.  As many other arms struggled out of the bullpen this season, it’s a little surprising (to me, at least) that he didn’t get more of a run, bouncing between Memphis and St. Louis for much of the season.

Outlook: Tui should be out of options next year and while he still may still have some rough edges (and given the gap between his FIP and his ERA this season, may have had some good luck) he should still be too valuable to give up on.  I guess he could be some extra piece in a big trade but I’d be more likely to believe he’ll start on the Opening Day roster as a sixth or seventh inning reliever.

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