This season didn’t go like most seasons. The Cardinals were terrible. I stopped writing here very much, with nothing after the blog anniversary. However, some things must go on and that includes the Exit Interview series! Now in its 12th year, it’s our look back at each player that made an appearance in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re approaching it a little different this season, a little more literary and a little less statistical, but hopefully you enjoy it just the same. As always, I am grateful that cardinalsgifs has agreed to use his talent for the header image!
Player: Drew VerHagen
Stats: 5-1, 60 G, 61.0 IP, 52 H, 9 HR, 26 BB, 60 K, 3.98 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 1.279 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Statcast: 8.1% barrel, 30.1% sweet spot, 113.1 max exit velocity, .314 wOBA, .308 xwOBA, 22.4% K, 9.7% BB
When VerHagen was brought over from Japan, there was actually a little bit of excitement. The early fruits of the Cardinals’ outreach in Asia had been promising, including the signing of Miles Mikolas, and in 2021 he had 100 strikeouts in 96 innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters. So while nobody expected him to anchor the rotation, there was some optimism that he could come over and be a long man in the bullpen with the occasional start thrown in. Suffice it to say, it didn’t work out that way.
You could, if you were charitable, chalk up the miserable 2022 to injuries and to readjusting to the major leagues. 2023 didn’t really have those issues. VerHagen hit the IL at the beginning of July but was back in a couple of weeks and, save for a short bereavement stint, was on the roster the rest of the way. So health wasn’t a concern and with a year under his belt his adjustment to the league wasn’t a qualifier. While he did do somewhat better in 2023, it still wasn’t anything approaching the initial expectations.
For instance, the idea that he might be a passible spot starter never came to fruition. In his 60 games, he went two or more innings five times. He went less than an inning 20 times. The idea that he was going to give you innings in bulk just never happened, perhaps due to the injuries of 2022 and perhaps because, well, he just wasn’t worth it. The K/IP stayed about the same, but he got lucky to post a 4 ERA, which is not exactly the hallmark of an exciting reliever. He did strand runners well (only 16% that he inherited scored) and there are some nice things in the numbers, but the overall package was less than exciting.
What’s in store for 2024: VerHagen was the only true free agent on the Cards at the end of the season, since Adam Wainwright was going to retire. He’ll float around in the miasma for a while but I imagine someone will sign him to a one year major league deal to see if they can get the strikeouts and cut down on the walks.