Cardinals can do better than Randal Grichuk in right field


That Randal Grichuk started and hit second against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner in Saturday’s shutout loss wasn’t actually a problem. It will be a problem if he finds himself anywhere near the two hole in the next three games of the NLCS for the Cardinals.

Grichuk, who unofficially became the Cardinals’ primary right fielder with about a week remaining in the regular season, was responsible for the first highlight of NLDS play last week when he took Clayton Kershaw deep in the first inning of Game 1 against the Dodgers. However, he’s 2-for-19 with no extra-base hits, no RBI and an 8/1 K/BB ratio since that homer, having started every game as the Cardinals’ No. 2 hitter.

The problem is that Grichuk really only hits left-handed pitchers. In Triple-A this year, he came in at .325/.376/.505 in 123 at-bats against southpaws and .233/.286/.403 versus righties. His splits weren’t quite as pronounced in previous years, but they were still significant. In the majors, he wasn’t particularly good against either lefties (.242/.254/.435 in 62 AB) or righties (.250/.308/.354 in 48 AB), but all of his homers did come off lefties.

Besides, there’s another benefit to sitting Grichuk versus right-handers the next three games; he’d be the one potentially scary option off the bench against lefties the Cardinals possess. Right now, they’re reduced to using Tony Cruz or Peter Bourjos as a late-game bat against Jeremy Affeldt or Javier Lopez. Grichuk would be much more of a threat.

So, ideally in Game 2 on Sunday, it’ll be Oscar Taveras in right field, perhaps with Kolten Wong batting second. Using Bourjos in center field and Jay in right, as they did a few times last month, is also an option, but a less likely one.

Yankees select Luis Severino for Opening Day

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Luis Severino will finally get his shot at an Opening Day start this year, the Yankees announced Saturday. According to manager Aaron Boone, he’ll lead a rotation comprised of Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery. It’ll be the first time since 2014 that someone other than Tanaka has taken the ball for Opening Day.

Severino, 24, is fresh off of his best career year to date. The right-hander pitched to a 14-6 record in 31 starts with the Yankees in 2017 and earned an All-Star nomination and Cy Young award consideration with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, 10.7 SO/9 and 5.7 fWAR in 193 1/3 innings. “We feel like it’s his time for it,” Boone told reporters Saturday. “With what he was able to do last year, we feel like he’s in a really good place now. We just felt like now is the time for him to take on that role and we think he’s ready for it. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow in his role as one of the aces of this staff.”

Prior to Saturday, Severino pitched in just one Grapefruit League game this spring. He fired 3 1/3 innings against the Phillies, allowing three hits and one unearned run and striking out three batters.

The Yankees are scheduled to kick off the season on March 29 against the Blue Jays. Jordan Montgomery will start their home opener against the Rays on April 2.