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: Mike Mayers
Season stats: 2-1, 1 SV, 4.70 ERA, 50 G, 51.2 IP, 59 H, 7 HR, 15 BB, 49 K, 3.95 FIP, 1.432 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, -0.3 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Goat 1
Overall grade: B-
Positives: Compared to Mayers’s career before this season, 2018 was an amazing run….at certain points was one of the most reliable arms in the Cardinal bullpen….was not charged with a run in 31 of his 50 appearances….limited lefties to a .247 average….had a 2.57 ERA away from home….had a 1.35 ERA in April….batters had a .660 OPS when they swung at the first pitch….the OPS was .654 when they hit the first pitch….had a .219/.227/.274 line when ahead in the count….batters hit .243 when they were leading off an inning against him….with nobody out, he allowed a .699 OPS….with two outs and runners in scoring position, limited hitters to a .606 OPS….batters had a .427 OPS when he had three days of rest….had a 2.57 ERA in seven inning against the Reds.
Negatives: Allowed two or more runs in eight appearances….had a 7.71 ERA from August 1 on and in that span allowed 80% (4 of 5) inherited runners to score….righties hit .324 against him with a .907 OPS….in Busch Stadium he allowed a .954 OPS and had a 7.23 ERA….batters slashed .321/.383/.548 in the second half….had a higher ERA every month than the month before, cumulating in a 9.00 September ERA in six innings….four places hitters had a 1.091 OPS against him….seventh place hitters had a .400/.483/.800 line in 30 plate appearances….batters hit .304 if they took the first pitch….when the batter was ahead in the count, he posted a 1.148 OPS….opposing pitchers were two for six against him with a home run….allowed a .794 OPS with runners in scoring position….allowed a .360 batting average in high-leverage situations….had a 9.00 ERA with one day of rest….had a 4.50 ERA against the Cubs and a 6.75 ERA against the Brewers.
Overview: You know, before I started digging into this stuff, I would have told you that I thought Mayers had a good year. The early part of the season, being in such contrast to what we’d see from him in 2016 and 2017, stuck with me. However, if you look at everything altogether, it really seems the only reason he got such a high grade above was because we expected absolutely nothing out of him before spring training. His 6.10 ERA in the second half really makes it seem like April and May were a fluke, not a corner turned. Mayers had significant strikeout stuff, as noted by his K/9 and his almost a strikeout an inning rate, but it feels like if he doesn’t get a strikeout, the ball is going to be hit hard.
Outlook: Given his stuff and those couple of good months, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cardinals kept Mayers and tried to see if he could recapture how 2018 started. However, Mayers is also out of options and is taking up a 40-man spot. I expected them to cut Mayers the last couple of years and they’ve kept him around, but that lack of flexibility is going to play a role here. The day this is to be published is the day rosters have to be cut down for the Rule 5 draft and my guess is there’s a 70% chance Mayers gets a chance to see what free agency is like.