Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Austin Gomber
Season stats: 6-2, 4.44 ERA, 29 G, 75 IP, 81 H, 7 HR, 32 BB, 67 K, 4.03 FIP, 1.507 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 0.0 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 2
Overall grade: C
Positives: Made his major league debut June 2 against Pittsburgh, though his first start didn’t come until July 24 at Cincinnati….took a no-hitter into the seventh in that start against the Reds, trying to duplicate Daniel Poncedeleon‘s feat from the night before….had a 3.98 ERA away from Busch and was 3-0 on the road….had a 3.77 ERA in 14.1 first-half innings….went 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA during August….though he didn’t register a save, he did limit hitters to a .182/.357/.227 mark in save situations….had a 4.26 ERA as a starter….limited second place hitters to a .590 OPS….batters hit .173 when he was ahead in the count….batters hit .228 with runners in scoring position….that dropped to .212 when there were two outs and RISP….batters had a .685 OPS in high leverage situations…batters hit .194 between pitches 76 and 100….put up a 3.42 ERA in Memphis….was 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA at AutoZone Park.
Negatives: Had a 5.06 ERA at Busch Stadium….stumbled down the stretch, posting a 9.15 ERA in September…was shelled in his two losses with a 16.20 ERA in those games….had a 5.00 ERA and 10 walks in 18 innings as a reliever….third place hitters got him for a 1.041 OPS but eighth place hitters were even worse (1.352 OPS)….batters hit .439 with a 1.003 OPS on his first pitch….three of his seven home runs allowed came on a 2-0 count….allowed a .413 average when he had no strikes in the count….allowed three hits and a walk to opposing pitchers in 22 plate appearances….batters had a .935 OPS with nobody out….put up a 5.73 ERA in the first inning….four of his home runs came in the first 25 pitches of the game….batters hit .357 between pitches 51-75…had a 7.71 ERA in 4.2 innings against the Cubs and a 10.38 ERA in 4.1 innings against the Brewers.
Overview: There was a lot of excitement around the ascension of Austin Gomber and it wasn’t completely unjustified. Gomber seems to be a solid lefty and the rotation has been right-handed heavy for a long time. That said, Gomber still seems to have some quirks to work out. He had an 11.20 ERA over his last four outings, which might have been somewhat based in fatigue but it also may have been the league starting to really know what was coming. Then there were games like in mid-August when he threw six scoreless innings at the Nationals. The talent is definitely there and while Gomber probably won’t ever be a #1 or #2 starter, he could comfortably sit in the back end of a rotation with a few adjustments.
Outlook: As we noted when we talked about John Gant, the rotation is pretty full for 2019, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Gomber got a few starts here and there. His numbers against lefties didn’t show that he could be that left-handed relief ace that the club is searching for. It’s always possible that he could be moved in a trade if the Cardinals unloaded some of their young pitching, but more likely would see Gomber starting at Memphis next season and bouncing back and forth between there and St. Louis.