Exit Interview 2020: Genesis Cabrera

After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season.  They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post.  Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  This year, of course, was anything but typical.  So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative.  There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable.  As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!

Player: Genesis Cabrera

Season stats: 4-1, 1 SV, 2.42 ERA, 19 G, 22.1 IP, 10 H, 3 HR, 16 BB, 32 K, 4.76 FIP, 1.164 WHIP, 12.9 K/9, 0.1 bWAR

Postseason stats: 2 G, 18.00 ERA, 1 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 K, 4.000 WHIP

Statcast: 7.2% barrel %, 84.0 exit velocity, 31.8% hard hit %, .319 xwOBA

Best Statcast category: Exit Velocity, Whiff % (98th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Barrel % (25th percentile)

Hero/Goat: None


Overview: There’s a lot to like about Genesis Cabrera, but all thoughts of the reliever right now are overshadowed by his playoff performance in Game 2 of the Wild Card Round.  With the Cards up four runs and looking like they were headed on to face the Dodgers, Cabrera came in and walked the bottom two hitters in the Padres lineup to start the sixth.  While he did strike out Trent Grisham and the bombs that came next were off of Giovanny Gallegos, the lack of control seemed to summarize a lot of what we think about Cabrera.  There are so many times where he can dominate, but night to night you don’t know if that will show up.

While the other two parts of the Tommy Pham made their Cardinals debut this season, Cabrera is always going to be the one that people link to that trade and the one that has the burden of making it at least respectable from St. Louis’s side.  There’s still plenty of reason that can happen, though the idea that Cabrera could be a valuable part of the rotation is starting to fade if, for nothing else, in that he hasn’t done much of it for a while.  The Cardinals seem to think that he can be a potent bullpen piece, and that 12.9 K/9 definitely lends to that line of thinking.  A consistent Cabrera, coupled with the arms that are out in the bullpen now, would help make for many shorter games.

That happened a lot this season, honestly.  It felt like Cabrera, Alex Reyes, and Giovanny Gallegos made up the A Team of relievers.  If there was a game the Cards had a lead in the sixth or seventh, those guys were going to pitch and, often, they brought home the victory.  It wasn’t always without drama–only six of Cabrera’s 19 appearances did not include a walk, though three of those were in his last four–but it was usually effective.  Twice Cabrera went two hitless innings (though he walked someone in both outings) and went longer than three outs eight times.  In a game that now requires three batters to be faced, having guys that can go longer really helps manage a bullpen.

Cabrera’s command issues weren’t any better against lefties–he actually had a higher rate of walks per plate appearance against them than righties–but other than that he looked like a significant weapon against those from the sinister side.  He allowed only two hits by left-handed batters all season and none went for extra bases, leading to a .319 OPS.  If he can figure out how to be more effective around the strike zone, he could become a very dominant factor.  That’s the if with his whole game, though.

Outlook: Cabrera has only pitched in two seasons at the big league level and neither one of them was complete.  He turned 24 a few days after the Cardinals packed up for the winter, so there’s a lot of rawness still in him.  It’s not surprising for a young man like that to be still figuring things out and the Cards will watch him continue to develop next year as one of their relievers, most likely getting to see his first Opening Day as a member of the Cards.

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