Matt Holliday on fire since move to second spot in lineup

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Matt Holliday batted .289 with six homers and an .809 OPS through 61 games as the Cardinals’ cleanup (and occasional No. 3) hitter. For him that apparently qualifies as enough of a slump that manager Tony La Russa moved him to the second spot in the lineup last week.
Since then Holliday has been on fire, going 13-for-28 (.464) with five homers and a 1.571 OPS in seven games. Holliday has raised his OPS by nearly 100 points in one week, which is remarkable given that he was doing just fine to begin with.
Overall he’s hitting .308 with a .379 on-base percentage and .512 slugging percentage, which is basically the same as the .313/.394/.515 line he produced last year in his first season not calling Coors Field home.
In other words, despite some gnashing of teeth over Holliday’s so-called slump and struggles with runners in scoring position, halfway through the first season of a seven-year, $120 million contract the Cardinals have gotten what they paid for. And he’s probably not long for the No. 2 spot.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.