Exit Interview 2021: Junior Fernandez

As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning.  Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review.  Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season.  As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!

Player: Junior Fernandez

Season stats: 1-0, 5.66 ERA, 18 G, 20.2 IP, 25 H, 2 HR, 15 BB, 15 K, 8 inherited runners, 5 inherited runners scored, 5.15 FIP, 1.935 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, -0.1 bWAR, -0.1 fWAR

Statcast: .366 xwOBA, 3.0 barrel %, 89.4 exit velocity, 35.8 hard hit %, 15.6 K %, 14.6 BB %

Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (97th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Fastball Spin (33rd percentile)

Hero/Goat: None

Grade: D

Positives: Had four outings of two or more innings and no earned runs charged….made four appearances from mid-July to the end of August and allowed no runs in any of them….right-handers had a .764 OPS against him….was better away from Busch, allowing a .250 batting average (but both of his home runs) on the road….not only did he give up no runs in August, he got his only win then as well….seventh place hitters went one for eight against him….had a 3.86 ERA in home games at Memphis (9.1 innings pitched).

Negatives: In the five games he was scored upon, they were all multiple run outings, including four allowed to the Indians on June 8….ended the season on the injured list….lefties had a .970 OPS against him….was beat up in six games at Busch Stadium, posting an 8.10 ERA and a .988 OPS against….allowed a 1.217 OPS in July….batters hit .305 against him on the year….eighth place hitters had a 1.381 OPS against him….batters hit .538 on the first pitch….gave up a .911 OPS with two outs….one of his homers allowed came with a runner on, adding to a .985 OPS in such situations….it was a 1.062 OPS with two outs and RISP….came into the game in the second inning one time and it did not go well….the Cubs slashed .400/.500/1.200 against him.

Overview: Fernandez is a bit of an enigma.  He’s obviously got the speed for the big leagues but he hasn’t shown he knows what to do with it yet.  The club bounced him up and down from St. Louis to Memphis (and his numbers as he walked ten feet off of Beale were worse than the bigs) and it feels like the club is treating him as a disposable arm that will mop up whenever necessary.  There were moments when that worked to the club’s advantage but there were some really ugly outings in there as well.

Outlook: Fernandez is heading into his Age 25 season and the last one (I believe) with options.  If he’s going to deliver on the promise he’s hinted about and be more than just the last man in the bullpen with a shuttle ticket for Memphis, this is the time to show it.  Hopefully he can and he’ll at least be a reliable sixth or seventh inning guy for Oli Marmol.  It’s just as likely, though, that he’ll find himself looking at a DFA if a roster spot is needed mid-season.

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