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: T.J. McFarland
Season stats: 6.61 ERA, 28 G, 32.2 IP, 42 H, 5 HR, 11 BB, 16 K, 25 IR, 11 IRS, 5.32 FIP, 1.622 WHIP, 4.4 K/9, -0.8 bWAR, -0.3 fWAR
Statcast: .374 xwOBA, 7.8 barrel %, 92.5 exit velocity, 51.7 hard hit %, 11.0 K %, 7.6 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (5th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Fastball Spin (2nd percentile)
Hero/Goat: Goat 3
Positives: Started the year with five scoreless innings in his first four appearances….was not charged with a run in 17 of his appearances, although he allowed three inherited runners to score….was able to limit seventh place hitters to a .205 OPS….if batters swung at the first pitch he kept them to a .725 OPS….he was ahead in the count significantly less than any other situation, but batters did only have a .500 OPS when that happened….with no outs gave up a .637 OPS….had a 1.59 ERA on no days’ rest….put up a 1.35 ERA in day games.
Negatives: Allowed two or more runs 10 times, including a five spot against the Mets in one inning….allowed two runs in 2.2 innings (plus an inherited runner to score) in his last Cardinal appearance….the lefty had no solution for left-handed batters, as they had a .354/.380/.542 line against him….allowed three of his five homers at Busch….batters hit .359 against him on the road….had a 6.91 ERA in the first half….had an ERA over 6.75 in every month but April (4.76) and July (0.00 in 3.1 frames)….four different spots in the batting order (first, fourth, fifth, ninth) had an OPS over 1.000….batters hit .321 on the first pitch….hitters posted a 1.268 OPS when they were ahead in the count….the first batter he faced went .423/.464/.577….allowed a 1.300 OPS with runners in scoring position….only saw eight plate appearances in high leverage situations….the Cubs hit .429 against him….had a 10.24 ERA in night games….was designated for assignment in mid August…. no one claimed him so he went to Memphis, where he had a 4.80 ERA the rest of the way.
Overview: John Mozeliak had a choice this past off-season. He had acquired two relievers off the scrap heap during 2021 and seen remarkable results. Luis Garcia wound up getting a two-year deal from the Padres where he struck out 68 in 61 innings and had a 3.39 ERA. T.J. McFarland…did not do as well. Why the choice of the older soft-tossing lefty instead of the hard-throwing righty may have been handedness, may have been money. Whatever the reason, McFarland completely imploded, as many had a feeling he might do. (In fairness, even though I invoked Jonathan Broxton in last year’s Exit Interview, I still thought he’d be passible.) I do note that less than a month after Mo going off on my reliever question at Blogger Day as an insinuation that I believed he should cut McFarland and telling us all how hard it was, how he has to go into that clubhouse, etc…..he wound up cutting McFarland. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Outlook: McFarland is closing in on 34 and it’s not impossible to believe–I mean, he is a lefty–that someone would sign him to a minor league contract somewhere. I don’t believe it would be the Cardinals and I don’t know that McFarland has much left to offer a major league club. It’s not like 2022 was completely out of line with his past history, for instance. Somebody might take a flier on him but I’d be more inclined to say he may be sitting at home next summer.