Here are the Cardinals’ and Braves’ lineups for the Wild Card playoff game:
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS ATLANTA BRAVES
1. Jon Jay, CF 1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF 2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Matt Holliday, LF 3. Jason Heyward, RF
4. Allen Craig, 1B 4. Chipper Jones, 3B
5. Yadier Molina, C 5. Freddie Freeman, 1B
6. David Freese, 3B 6. Dan Uggla, 2B
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B 7. David Ross, C
8. Pete Kozma, SS 8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Kyle Lohse, P 9. Kris Medlen, P
Mike Matheny is going with what became the Cardinals’ standard stretch-run lineup and batting order without the injured Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal. After beginning with a left-handed hitter and a switch-hitter the lineup’s 3-4-5-6 spots are all right-handed bats against Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, but then again he held both righties and lefties to a sub-.210 batting average anyway.
Fredi Gonzalez decided to bench six-time all-star Brian McCann following his terrible August and September, so David Ross gets the start at catcher for the Braves. Ross caught Medlen for 44 of his 138 total innings and they had a ridiculous 0.81 ERA together, so that shouldn’t be an issue. And of course he’s the stat you’ll hear about constantly during the game: Atlanta has won 23 consecutive games started by Medlen and they’re favored tonight.
Feel free to chat during the game in the comments section.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.