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: Jake Woodford
Season stats: 1-0, 5.57 ERA, 12 G, 21 IP, 20 H, 7 HR, 5 BB, 16 K, 6.71 FIP, 1.190 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, -0.3 bWAR
Postseason stats: DNP
Statcast: 14.1% barrel %, 89.9 exit velocity, 40.6% hard hit %, .341 xwOBA
Best Statcast category: Curve Spin (51st percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Barrel % (3rd percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1
On COVID IL: No
Overview: There were some players that made their major league debut in 2020 only because of the pandemic and the ravages it did on the roster. Jake Woodford isn’t one of those players, though. While I don’t think he’d have been on the Opening Day roster like he sorta was (he was on the original taxi squad), I think there’s a strong likelihood that he would have been called to be bullpen help or to perhaps make a spot start even if 2020 was much more like the seasons we are used to seeing. He’d had a year-plus in Memphis and while the results weren’t lighting the world on fire, they were solid enough for him to be a fresh arm.
However, the pandemic did happen and that meant Woodford got a lot more exposure at the major league level than was expected and without any extra minor league seasoning. The results were mixed, I’d say. The overall numbers don’t look great, but take out five runs against the Brewers in 1.1 innings during a blowout and his ERA drops to 3.66, which fits more of my personal picture of his season than the 5.57 that’s on the back of his baseball card. Woodford felt like a guy who could come in and keep you in the ballgame. He had five outings where he wasn’t scored upon and four others where he gave up just one run. Most of his work was in low leverage, which was a reasonable and smart thing to do, but overall I don’t think he hurt the team. Which is about all you can hope for from a guy like him, I think.
Outlook: Woodford just turned 24 in October, so there’s still some growing and developing that he can do. I don’t think he’ll ever be a strikeout pitcher, which is going to be a hinderance, but I could see him developing into a reasonable fifth starter for the Cardinals or some other team. (Probably some other team if St. Louis continues producing players like Johan Oviedo or signing players like Kwang Hyun Kim.) I imagine we’ll see him back and forth from the big leagues to Memphis next year, assuming normalcy, and we’ll see if he can take that next step to figuring out how to get MLB hitters out on a regular basis.