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: Jesus Cruz
Season stats: 18.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.19 FIP, 4.000 WHIP, 18.0 K/9, -0.1 bWAR
Postseason stats: DNP
Statcast: 25.0% barrel %, 92.5 exit velocity, 25.0% hard hit %, .441 xwOBA
Best Statcast category: Did not qualify
Worst Statcast category: Did not qualify
On COVID IL: No
Overview: In the midst of the chaos that was the return of the Cardinals from their COVID-related shutdown, players like Jesus Cruz made their impact on the season, such as it was. As the starting pitchers could go deeper into games (especially with the shortened innings load required by seven inning doubleheaders this season), players like Cruz were not needed, but the roster churn kept fresh arms on the big league club in those early days. Cruz, who had been in the Cardinal organization for a number of years, jumped up a few levels and got his shot at the big leagues.
The early returns went well. With the Cubs leading 4-1, he came in to find the bases full of baby bears and Kyle Schwarber at the plate. The count ran full, but Cruz was able to get him swinging for a remarkable first impression. Unfortunately, Mike Shildt needed more out of him so Cruz then started the next inning. He was able to get Willson Contreras swinging for the first out, but then single, single, double, sac fly, walk ended his night and, it turned out, his major league season. He was optioned back down to Springfield and never got another chance as the need was never as pressing. Well, he wasn’t needed, but his spot on the 40-man was and he passed through waivers to stay in the Cardinals system.
Outlook: Cruz struggled in Memphis in 2019, though he was young for the league and basically skipped over Springfield. Assuming a fairly regular minor league season next year–something that is not guaranteed by a long shot–I would expect that they’ll give him some time in Memphis with the possibility of adding him back to the 40-man if he can show he is making progress. Getting Schwarber and Contreras at the big league level should at least pique some interest, but whether he can capitalize on that remains to be seen.