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: Jordan Montgomery
Season stats: 6-3, 3.11 ERA, 11 G, 11 GS, 63.2 IP, 56 H, 6 HR, 13 BB, 61 K, 3.08 FIP, 1.084 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 0.8 bWAR, 1.4 fWAR
Statcast: .310 xwOBA, 7.1 barrel %, 88.5 exit velocity, 37.5 hard hit %, 21.8 K %, 5.0 BB %
Best Statcast category: BB % (89th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: xBA, Curve Spin (21st percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 3
Positives: Traded to St. Louis for Harrison Bader at the deadline and immediately made an impact….had a 0.35 ERA in his first four games, including a complete game one-hitter….lefties had a .477 OPS against him….had a 1.76 ERA in August….had an ERA under 1.00 in games that he won….had a 2.73 ERA when he received two or fewer runs of support….leadoff hitters had a .435 OPS against him….batters had a .607 OPS to start an inning against him….allowed a .236 average with runners in scoring position….struck out 31 and walked three in 32 first innings….had a 2.89 ERA on five days’ rest….went 3-0 with 22 scoreless innings against the Cubs….had a 3.27 ERA in two starts against the Brewers….had a 2.84 ERA at Busch Stadium….batters hit .154 against his curveball.
Negatives: Gave up five or more more runs three times after that impressive start….had a 4.36 ERA in September….cleanup batters had an .844 OPS against him….batters hit .286 with four homers on the first pitch….was best in low leverage situations, with a .599 OPS in them.
Overview: It’s fair to say that without the trade deadline pitching moves of Montgomery and Jose Quintana the Cardinals would not have reached the playoffs. The pitching rotation needed stability and Montgomery made a great first impression in that regard with his early success. Switching leagues isn’t the boost that it used to be, what with video and interleague play, but there still has to be something about seeing some new batters for the first time. The league adjusted a bit to him as the second half went on but he still had a lot of good outings even as some of the better teams were able to get to him. He came into relief in Game 2 of the postseason as the Cardinals were trying to hang on for dear life, otherwise he would have started the decisive Game 3 and the club would have been comfortable with him doing so, which is a great vote of confidence on a guy that was only there two months.
Outlook: It says a lot that he replaced a guy in Bader that was a pretty well-liked player and there’s not been much, if any, blowback. Montgomery is arbitration eligible for the last time this winter and, while the track record of extending pitchers before you have to is sort of mixed in the John Mozeliak administration, Montgomery would seem to be a good candidate to get at least a two year deal, buying out one year of free agency. He’ll be in the middle of the rotation pitcher for next year and I’m looking forward to seeing him for a full season.