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: Guillermo Zuniga
Stats: 0-0, 2 G, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 4 K, 4.50 ERA, -0.75 FIP, 1.000 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Statcast: 25.0% barrel, 75.0% sweet spot, 99.7 max exit velocity, .266 wOBA, .279 xwOBA, 50.0% K, 0.0% BB
This is really not how we thought Zuniga’s season was going to go. Signed in the offseason and with a stellar turn in the World Baseball Classic, the fact that Zuniga started the season at Memphis wasn’t that much of a surprise, given his history. At the beginning of May, though, Zack Thompson was optioned down to become a starter and it was Zuniga’s time to shine. He struck out two of the three Angels he faced in his major league debut and, for his reward…..the club sent him back to Memphis so they could activate Adam Wainwright. An interesting move to be sure but you could argue that no one save maybe Andre Pallante would have been even possible to go down instead.
In Memphis, things were a little rocky. He only pitched a little over 30 innings down in AAA but he gave up six homers and had an ERA over seven and a half. He did lock down five of seven save opportunities, though, and 11 of the 26 earned runs he allowed came in three outings. Given that he was 25 in his first spin around AAA, some growing pains were to be expected. The Cards got him back up a couple of times and he got into a game against the Mets, striking out two in an inning of work but allowing a run. He ended the year on the injured list (after missing a month earlier in the year with injuries). Overall, there’s still a lot to be excited for with Zuniga, we’ll just have to see how he handles Memphis this time around.
What’s in store for 2024: Depending on what the Cardinals do to improve the bullpen, Zuniga should come to camp with an outside shot at making the roster. Most likely, he’ll head back to Memphis but he’ll likely get to ride the shuttle more frequently than he did in 2023.