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: Packy Naughton
Season stats: 0-2, 1 SV, 2 SVO, 4.78 ERA, 26 G, 3 GS, 32 IP, 39 H, 3 HR, 7 BB, 31 K, 17 IR, 5 IRS, 3.14 FIP, 1.438 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, -0.1 bWAR, 0.4 fWAR
Statcast: .301 xwOBA, 6.9 barrel %, 87.1 exit velocity, 35.3 hard hit %, 22.0 K %, 5.0 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (37th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Fastball Spin (11th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 1
Positives: Became the third Patron Pitcher of the Blog when he donned the #70 for his Cardinal debut on April 26….had his standout moment on July 12, entering a 6-5 game against the Dodgers with the bases loaded and nobody out, only to escape with no runs scored….was not charged with a run in 18 appearances….limited lefties to a .163/.212/.265 line….had a 2.45 ERA at Busch….had a 2.25 ERA in four September innings….struck out 12 and walked only one in May….allowed only one homer as a reliever….cleanup hitters had a .231 OPS against him….limited batters to a .184 average when they were ahead in the count….allowed a .571 OPS with nobody out….had a .619 OPS against in the middle innings….gave up a .655 OPS on his first 25 pitches….threw 1.2 scoreless innings against the Brewers….had a 2.70 ERA in day games….did well at Memphis, with a 2.08 ERA in 11 games.
Negatives: Gave up three or more runs three times, though two of those were starts….righties had a .951 OPS against him….gave up a .325 average away from home….got roughed up on the road to the tune of a 6.75 ERA….struggled in nine second half appearances, allowing a 1.024 OPS and a 7.20 ERA….allowed a 1.061 OPS as a starter….sixth place hitters put up a 1.438 OPS….batters hit .471 on the first pitch….weirdly hitters did better when they were behind in the count (.925 OPS)….gave up a 1.109 OPS with runners in scoring position….it was 1.191 with two outs and RISP….had a 5.63 ERA on one day of rest….had a 5.40 ERA and 1.071 OPS against the Cubs.
Overview: The #PatronPitcher was acquired via waivers from the Angels last winter and turned out to be a productive acquisition. Nobody’s going to move him into the late innings, I don’t think, but in the right situations he was very successful. He wasn’t a Ryan Helsley or anything when it came to strikeouts but he was able to generate his share. If the LOOGY was still a thing, Naughton would probably have had a better season. The fact that the Cardinals tried to use him as a starter, even though he has starting experience in his past, was a real strong sign that the pitching rotation needed the upgrade it finally got.
Outlook: Naughton still has a year of options so I’d expect to see him in a similar situation next year as he was in 2022, riding the Memphis shuttle (he was one of the only players that approached the five option limit last year) and used against lefties as much as possible. We’ll see if he can take another step next year toward keeping that #70 on his back for a while or if familiarity will breed some rough outings.