Alex Reyes: -0.3 fWAR, -0.4 bWAR
I guess I was not aware at the extent to which Alex Reyes stunk things up in his five appearances this year. But how about a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 0.17? Or a 15.00 Earned Run Average? And an 0-1 W-L record? Things did not go as well as fans had hoped, many of whom assumed Reyes would eventually work his way back into the starting rotation. Many had him ranked ahead of everyone except Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty!
These high hopes for Reyes have a long pedigree at this point, going back to 2016 when Reyes was a 21-year old call up.
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The Cardinals, attempting to make the playoffs, called upon Reyes in 2016 to start in important games against contending teams, including seven scoreless innings against San Francisco on September 23 and, in his next outing, three runs in five innings against Chicago.
As a starting pitcher in 2016, Reyes was credited with a 4−1 record; his only loss came against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 7. He completed 17 1⁄3 relief innings, surrendering one earned run and eight hits while striking out 23. In 46 total innings with St. Louis in 2016, Reyes struck out 52; his 1.57 ERA ranked second among all major league rookie relief pitchers with at least 20 innings.
On February 14, 2017, Reyes was diagnosed with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The next day, it was announced Reyes would undergo Tommy John surgery, shelving him for the entire 2017 season. He had successful surgery on February 16.After sitting out all of 2017, Reyes began rehabbing in 2018.
In a rehab start on May 19 with the Springfield Cardinals he pitched 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out 13, tying Springfield’s team record. On May 24 during a rehab start with the Memphis Redbirds, Reyes struck out nine consecutive batters, making him the first pitcher in Pacific Coast League history to strike out nine batters in a row.
In four total rehab starts between Springfield, the Peoria Chiefs, Palm Beach Cardinals and Memphis, he pitched 23 scoreless innings in which he struck out 44, walked seven, and gave up only seven hits.
Reyes was activated from the 60-day DL on May 30, 2018, to start against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was a major event in Cardinal Nation. A sort of Alex Reyes Day. Making his first major league appearance since September 29, 2016, Reyes pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits while walking two and striking out two.
But pitching coach Mike Maddux noticed a significant inning-to-inning velocity drop. Something just wasn’t right. Reyes landed right back on the DL a day later with a right lat injury. On June 6th, Reyes underwent surgery for a torn tendon in his lat muscle, effectively ending his season.
Reyes entered the 2019 season and began the year in St. Louis’ bullpen. However, in his first three innings of the year, spread over five relief appearances, he allowed five runs and six walks and was ultimately optioned to the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds on April 7. Back to starting, at both AAA and a rehab assignment at A+, he managed just 37 innings and a 1-4 W-L record. His official listed injury at present is “pectoral”.
This list is not necessarily a fun one to compile, but there are a few surprises when digging through the statistics. For Andrew Miller and Jose Martinez, a step up is needed. For Gyorko, Leone, Reyes, and Munoz, it is just a bit of a disappointment to see them where they ended up this year. Thankfully for all players on this list, WAR resets at the end of the year and everyone starts at 0.0 in 2020.