Exit Interview 2020: Alex Reyes

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: Alex Reyes

Season stats: 2-1, 1 SV, 3.20 ERA, 15 G, 19.2 IP, 14 H, 1 HR, 14 BB, 27 K, 3.24 FIP, 1.424 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, -0.1 bWAR

Postseason stats: 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 1.200 WHIP

Statcast: 8.9% barrel %, 86.3 exit velocity, 28.9% hard hit %, .279 xwOBA

Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (97th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Barrel % (26th percentile)

Hero/Goat: Goat 1


Overview: In the year of the pandemic, Alex Reyes finally got healthy.  The former phenom, who had been so ravaged by injuries over the past three years that he just seven innings pitched in the majors over that time, showed why everyone was willing to wait on him with some strong stuff in 2020.  Reyes became effective enough to briefly step into Giovanny Gallegos‘s closer shoes when Gallegos went on the IL and while he didn’t necessarily stay there, the team was very willing to use him in tough situations.  He had 30 plate appearances in high leverage situations, which was over a third of his total.  In those spots he allowed a .154/.241/.192 line.  The only home run he allowed on the season came in a game the Cardinals were up 6-0 against the Royals (though it was a three-run shot that made things a little interesting.)

His one start of the season, which was in his second appearance of the year (it’s hard to remember that he was actually optioned out before the end of regular spring training and that didn’t change until after the COVID layoff), didn’t go as well as he walked three and threw 24 pitches in the first, ending his day.  Given how well he used his arsenal in the rest of the games, though, I don’t know that the club would rule out starting for him again.  Even if it doesn’t happen, he’ll be a great asset in the bullpen it would seem.

There is a small caveat to this brought on by the, you guessed it, small sample size.  Reyes allowed a run in both of his last two regular season appearances and three of his last five.  He also scuffled in Game 2 (like the rest of the bullpen) allowing the Padres to come back and win that game.  Is that a function of wear?  A function of teams getting a handle on what he’s throwing?  A fluke?  There’s really no telling.  Given how well his stuff was working most of this past season I’d probably lean toward the latter, but until he gets his command completely under control (no pun intended), these issues may continue to flare up.

Outlook: With Austin Gomber and likely Daniel Ponce de Leon ahead of him, it would not be a surprise if Reyes spent the winter preparing to be a starter but was used again in 2021 as a fireman type that can go more than one inning and can come into tough situations and get big outs.  With a “full” season under his belt perhaps he can focus more on training and less on rehab, making next season even better for the young man.

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