St. Louis Cardinals Player Projections: John Gant

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 26: John Gant #53 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Busch Stadium on September 26, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 26: John Gant #53 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Busch Stadium on September 26, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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John Gant hasn’t necessarily been heralded by St. Louis Cardinals fans during his career in St. Louis, but he fills a very important role. What will his 2019 look like?

What may be the most thankless role in all of baseball, the long reliever/spot starter role is also one of the most critical. For the past two years, John Gant has filled that role quite well for your St. Louis Cardinals.

John Gant was acquired back in December of 2016 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent veteran starter Jaime Garcia down to Georgia for a package of three prospects that included Gant. At the time of his trading, Gant was just 23 years old coming off his rookie season where he threw 50 innings mixing in starts and long relief for the Braves and doing a solid job. He had a 4.86 ERA and an 86 ERA+ during his rookie season.

After spending the majority of the 2017 season at AAA Memphis more or less proving he didn’t belong there, he was moved into the full long relief/spot starter role in 2018 and thrived. Starting 19 games and appearing in 26, Gant threw for a 3.47 ERA and a 112 ERA+ over 114 innings while improving pretty much all of his advanced stats.

The role Gant plays is so tough because you don’t know when the next time you are going to pitch will be. For example, Gant only appeared in one game during March/April and then just two games in June. He needs to be ready for when there is an injury or lack of performance by a starter. Not too many pitchers have the ability to perform well in such a variable role.

PlayerERAFIPGIPBB/9ERA+WAR
John Gant4.644.72 31 137.73.89860.7

I really feel bad looking at these ZiPS projections over and over and continuing to pick the over, but these numbers just don’t make sense to me. Gant pitching at this projection would be a huge backslide from where he was in 2017. I just cannot agree that Gant’s ERA would jump more than one whole run.

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Gant is not a super exciting pitcher, but his unique ability to fill the long relief role for the St. Louis Cardinals may be the biggest factor in him keeping his spot on the 25 man roster. Still just 26 years old, Gant is under control until 2023 and is still growing and maturing as a pitcher, which also factors into the fact that I don’t think he will decline as much as ZiPS projects.

The other thing I disagree with in this ZiPS projection is the innings count. I would have to believe that this projection has a few of the Cardinals starters getting hurt, in which Gant would have to be the first man up to replace them. That would be the only way that Gant gets to so many innings thrown. While this may happen, I wouldn’t want to necessarily project that it’s gonna happen.

My Prediction: 3.80 ERA, 32 G, 12 GS, 105 IP, 100 ERA+, 0.9 WAR

Next. Player Projections: Jack Flaherty. dark

In 2019, Gant will be in play for a 5th starter position with Adam Wainwright possibly faltering, but unless he comes out in Spring Training lighting the world on fire. I haven’t taken the over on every pitcher, but I have on most, I’m a homer for sure but I just can’t see Gant being that bad in 2019.

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