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: Dakota Hudson
Season stats: 8-7, 4.45 ERA, 27 G, 26 GS, 139.2 IP, 141 H, 9 HR, 61 BB, 78 K, 4.34 FIP, 1.446 WHIP, 5.0 K/9, 0.1 bWAR, 1.0 fWAR
Statcast: .343 xwOBA, 6.0 barrel %, 89.0 exit velocity, 40.4 hard hit %, 13.1 K %, 10.2 BB %
Best Statcast category: Barrel % (74th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Chase Rate, K % (1st percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 4, Goat 6
Positives: Had four starts of zero runs and five or more innings….struck out six batters in two different starts….had a 2.84 ERA and batters put up a .654 OPS under the Arch….only allowed two homers in the second half, though he also threw about half as many innings….had a strong April with a 2.75 ERA….had a 1.45 ERA and a .518 OPS against in the eight games he won….pitched three innings of scoreless ball in his only relief outing….had a 3.86 ERA when he got two or less runs of support….limited third place hitters to a .242 average….had a .524 OPS when he was ahead in the count….had his best OPS against (.645) when there were two outs….in 11 sixth innings posted a 0.82 ERA….had a 3.44 ERA on five days’ rest….shut down the Cubs to the tune of a 2.57 ERA and a .200 average against….much better in day games with a 3.42 ERA….batters hit .228 against his slider.
Negatives: Never had a FIP under 4.33 all year….ended the season allowing seven runs in 2.2 innings….allowed five or more runs five times….righties had a .281 average against him….had a 5.76 ERA away from Busch….had a 5.23 ERA in the second half and hitters had a .304/.378/.386 line….walked more (14) than he struck out (11) in May….had a 5.76 ERA in August….batters hit .316 against him in September….had an 8.07 ERA in the seven games he lost….had a 5.76 ERA when he had six or more runs of support….gave up two homers and an .841 OPS to ninth place hitters….batters had a .960 OPS when ahead in the count….gave up a .297 average to the first batter of an inning and walked 18 in 148 such plate appearances….allowed four homers and an .810 OPS when nobody was out….batters hit .287 with runners in scoring position….hitters had a .748 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position….in 12 plate appearances in late and close situations, gave up a .500/.417/.800 line….pitched better behind (.684 OPS) than ahead (.817 OPS)….had over a 5.50 ERA in both the second and third innings….four of his homers allowed were in the second….had a 6.00 ERA against the Brewers….was in the bottom 7% of the league in xBA, the bottom 3% of the league in maximum exit velocity, and the bottom 1% in strikeout percentage….batters hit .318 against his sinker.
Overview: I’ve never been a big fan of Hudson’s, even as he was coming up as a prospect, in large part because he didn’t strike out anyone and didn’t seem to have the control to mitigate that. We’re five years into the Dakota Hudson Experience and that hasn’t changed, though you can give a caveat for missing time with Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately, even when he doesn’t walk anyone, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a strong outing. He only had one game where he didn’t walk anyone and in that game he was pulled after four having allowed three runs to the Royals. He had a few effective games, such as back-to-back games at the beginning of June where he went seven innings, allowing just one run and one walk in each, but he also had games where he only walked one and gave up three, four, or even five runs.
He had a three game stretch from late April to early May where he had a 1.45 ERA, but even then it was 12 strikeouts and nine walks. He had a three game stretch from late May to early June, which was mainly those two games already mentioned and one other short start for a 0.96 ERA and at least then he had a 2.00 K/BB rate. You can get some good games out of Hudson, maybe even a couple in a row, but without some serious changes it’s hard to believe he’s going to be a reliable major league starter, at least anything more than the fifth guy in the rotation.
Outlook: With the return of Adam Wainwright, it would seem that the Cardinals could fill a five man rotation without Hudson and that’s not counting any free agents they may sign or trades that they might pull off. The Cardinals still seem to be positive on Hudson and it’s possible they’d try to use him as a swing man/sixth starter/long relief guy. They aren’t going to release him, since he’s got two more arbitration years. It’s possible some team could think they know how to tweak his approach or mechanics and try to trade for him (or he gets thrown into a larger deal) but for the most part, he’ll probably be in some sort of limbo for the Redbirds next season.