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: Jake Woodford
Season stats: 4-0, 2.23 ERA, 27 G, 1 GS, 48.1 IP, 43 H, 1 HR, 11 BB, 24 K, 13 IR, 3 IRS, 3.13 FIP, 1.117 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 0.8 bWAR, 0.6 fWAR
Statcast: .310 xwOBA, 5.3 barrel %, 88.0 exit velocity, 36.2 hard hit %, 12.8 K %, 5.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Extension (66th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Fastball Spin (16th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 1
Positives: Spent a lot of time going back and forth from Memphis, but did well enough fans kept wondering why he wasn’t staying in the bigs….only allowed earned runs in six of his outings….all of his career bWAR came in 2022, even though had had pitched in the two previous seasons….righties had a .575 OPS against him….had a 0.86 ERA under the Arch with a .558 OPS….had a 1.63 ERA in the second half, where he pitched more than half of his innings….had two wins and a 0.71 ERA in August….allowed a run in 5.1 innings in his only start….posted a .497 OPS when ahead in the count, though the only homer he allowed came in that situation….held the first batter he faced to a .167 average….gave up a .538 OPS with nobody out in an inning….had a .562 OPS with runners in scoring position….had a 1.93 ERA against the Brewers….batters hit .189 on the slider….had a 3.14 ERA in 43 innings at Memphis.
Negatives: Gave up four runs in less than two innings to the Pirates in September….lefties got him for a .292 average….had a 5.79 ERA in June, but only had 4.2 innings….hitters in the one spot in the lineup had a 1.154 OPS….second place hitters had an OPS of .150….batters hit .294 on the first pitch….only had five high leverage spots, though batters went 0-4 with a walk in them….batters had a .690 OPS on his first 25 pitches….had a 10.80 ERA with one day’s rest, though that only happened twice….was in the bottom 2% of the league in maximum exit velocity….had the lowest strikeout percentage of his career.
Overview: I’m not a huge Woodford fan but it was strange to see how the Cardinals wouldn’t give him a shot in the starting rotation in the first half of the season when things were pretty dire in that department. Perhaps it was the downturn in strikeouts but everything else was clicking pretty well. His FIP was solid, his xERA was 4.00 so he was getting somewhat better results than he should have but it wasn’t egregious, and again the Cardinals were so desperate for starters Harrison Bader is now a Yankee. It was also interesting that he didn’t get to stay in the major league bullpen all year, though the fact that he had options meant that at times he got the short end of the stick, going down because there was no other real option. Woodford was one of the better pitchers to wear the birds on the bat in 2022, though, and he probably should have more than 50 innings to show for it.
Outlook: Woodford still has an option year so there’s no guarantee 2023 will be any more stable for him than 2022 was. It’s also fair to wonder whether this past season was a little bit of a fluke and the results will have a course correction next season. If he continues to pitch like he has been, though, he could have some value especially as a long man out of a pen, depending on how deep into games they let pitchers like Adam Wainwright go.