One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Genesis Cabrera
Season stats: 4-2, 1 SV, 2 SVO, 4.63 ERA, 39 G, 44.2 IP, 39 H, 8 HR, 20 BB, 32 K, 16 IR, 8 IRS, 5.62 FIP, 1.321 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, -0.3 bWAR, -0.8 fWAR
Statcast: .341 xwOBA, 7.2 barrel %, 86.3 exit velocity, 31.2 hard hit %, 16.5 K %, 10.3 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (85th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Extension (34th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 4
Positives: Had 26 outings where he wasn’t charge with a run….limited left-handed batters to a .214 average….had a 3.91 ERA and a .693 OPS at Busch Stadium….batters slashed .191/.292/.357 in the first half against him….had a strong June, putting up a 2.53 ERA and striking out 10 in 10.2 innings of work….was solid in save situations, limiting hitters to an .095 average and posting a 2.29 ERA….gave up just a .213/.226/.426 line when ahead in the count….the first batter he faced had a ..436 OPS and batters only had a .500 OPS when they led off an inning against him….limited hitters to a .585 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position….batters hit just .135 in high leverage situations….was at his best with two (1.93 ERA, .443 OPS) or three (1.80, .544 OPS) days of rest….had a 4.26 ERA against the Cubs but their batters only posted a .574 OPS….had a 1.59 ERA against Milwaukee….did his best work with Andrew Knizner behind the plate, putting up a 3.18 ERA in those situations.
Negatives: Gave up four or more runs twice, including an outing in Colorado where he didn’t retire a single batter….was tagged with a run in 13 of his 39 games….his last outing for St. Louis he allowed five runs in a frame against the Braves….his last month in the bigs he posted a 14.14 ERA with a 1.130 OPS against….had an 11.70 ERA in the second half….three of his eight homers allowed came to cleanup hitters, who put up a 1.140 OPS against him….third place hitters did even better with a 1.196 OPS….batters hit .360 on the first pitch….they posted a .970 OPS when they were ahead….batters hit .308 with seven walks with runners in scoring position….with runners on first and second batters had a 1.324 OPS….opposing hitters put up a 1.039 OPS in low leverage situations….allowed an OPS over 1.000 in the seventh (11.1 innings) and ninth (2.2 innings)….with no days of rest he permitted a 1.153 OPS….pitched 10 games after being demoted to Memphis and posted a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings, though he only allowed runs in two of the 10 games….was not reinstated for the postseason roster….gave up as many home runs last year as he did in his first three seasons combined.
Overview: Cabrera has always had a little bit of anxiety-inducing in his game, but he’s also been good enough to be one of the Big Three in the bullpen. That was the case for the first half of 2022 as well. After pitching 2/3rds of an inning on June 13 against the Pirates, he had a 1.98 ERA and everything seemed, if not perfect (he’d let half of his inherited runners score and his FIP was over 4), at least reasonable. You might get a little anxious, things might go south occasionally, but he was still a big part of the bullpen.
Until he wasn’t. From June 14 until he finally was demoted to Memphis after his outing against the Braves on August 26, he put up an 8.83 ERA. There were still some good outings in there, but they became a little less frequent and the command seemed to go (12 walks in 17.1 innings). The game against the Rockies, where he entered into a 2-2 game with two runners on and promptly gave up an RBI single, an RBI single, a 3-run homer, and a solo shot, probably started the front office thinking about sending him to Memphis since he had options and, eventually, that’s what they had to do.
Outlook: Cabrera picked a tough time to be initially arbitration eligible. It seems very unlikely he’ll get a significant payday (though I’m sure he’ll get a raise) and it’s remarkably unlikely, unless the Cardinals have identified a flaw they don’t think can be fixed, that they’d release him. It appears he has one option left, so I would imagine he’ll come to camp with the inside track for a major league job but be ticketed for Memphis should the problems that derailed his 2022 still be present.