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: Alex Reyes
Season stats: 10-8, 29 SV, 34 SVO, 3.24 ERA, 69 G, 72.1 IP, 46 H, 9 HR, 52 BB, 95 K, 14 inherited runners, 10 inherited runners scored, 4.40 FIP, 1.355 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, 0.6 bWAR, 0.2 fWAR
Statcast: .288 xwOBA, 4.8 barrel %, 87.2 exit velocity, 34.5 hard hit %, 30.0 K %., 16.4 BB %
Best Statcast category: xBA, Whiff % (95th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: BB % (1st percentile)
Hero/Goat: Goat 7
Positives: Made his first All-Star Game….set the record for most consecutive saves to start a career….came within a third of an inning of equaling his career innings total from 2016-2020….lefties hit .155 against him and righties .195….had a 2.90 ERA at Busch, though he allowed five of his nine homers there….allowed a .517 OPS in the first half and posted a 1.52 ERA in that span….threw 12.1 scoreless innings in April….allowed a .468 OPS in games he got the save….leadoff batters had a .464 OPS against him….batters had a .558 OPS if they took the first pitch….allowed a .127/.143/.388 line when ahead in the count….gave up a .099 average with two strikes….had a .410 OPS against and did not allow a home run with nobody out….batters had a .619 OPS with runners in scoring position….that dropped to .373 with two outs….posted a .596 OPS against in late and close situations….was roughly as effective in high, medium, and low leverage situations….had a 2.92 ERA on no days’ rest….the Brewers had a .693 OPS against him, though only they and the Pirates had more than one homer….had a .524 OPS against in night games.
Negatives: Lost his closer job in September….gave up walkoff home runs in back-to-back Sunday games….had five games in the second half where he allowed three runs or more….walked four batters and hit one in a five-batter outing against the Braves in August….had a 5.52 ERA in the second half….led by that Braves game, had a 7.84 ERA in August….walked 15 batters in 15.2 May innings….had an awful lot of decisions for a guy who was mainly a closer….had a 15.63 ERA in his eight losses….batters had a 1.071 OPS on the first pitch….batters had a .490 OBP with a full count….eight of his homers came with one out in an inning….three times he walked a batter with two outs and the bases loaded….he had six bases-loaded walks overall….five of his home runs came in high leverage situations….had a 5.19 ERA in the eighth inning….had a 10.29 ERA and a .980 OPS against when facing the Cubs….had a 4.64 ERA in day games….ended the Cardinals’ season by allowing the walk-off homer to Chris Taylor in the Wild Card Game.
Overview: Talk about a mixed bag of a season. Reyes went from All-Star closer to middle relief guy in the span of five weeks. The early season success was always a bit of a mirage as his strikeout to walk rate was 1.69 in the first half and it wasn’t because he wasn’t striking people out. A perfect outing was rare from Reyes even when he was able to slam the door but eventually there were enough feet in the way that the door never shut. Mike Shildt stuck with Reyes longer than most people would have–and his decision to bring him into the biggest moment of the season was questionable even before Taylor launched the homer–and you wonder if Reyes would have still been the closer at the end of the year had the team not had Giovanny Gallegos. Whatever the case, it was frustrating to see Reyes reach those highs after all that he has been through in his career and then not be able to keep ahold of them. As a whole, I think the fan base has been rooting for Reyes but this season wasn’t what we had in mind.
Outlook: The Cardinals had a goal of 100 innings for Reyes before the season started so that he could then ramp up to being a starter for 2022. He didn’t come close to that but the club still seems to be planning for Reyes to take that road. Given his command issues (and, since they have been with him throughout his career, there’s no reasonable expectation they’ll drastically improve) that seems like a really dicey proposition. He’s not going to be more than a five inning pitcher and even at that you could probably only get 20 starts out of him. However, it would seem likely he could work around his walks more as a starter with the game not consistently hanging in the balance, so there is that. Honestly, I don’t know what you do with Reyes and the Cardinals seem to be playing it by feel as well, not guaranteeing him a spot in the rotation. He’ll probably get some starts in 2022 but he also may spend some time in Memphis to try to build up some strength before he does.