Matt Carpenter posted a promising .294/.365/.463 batting line last season for the Cardinals but he was limited to just 64 starts because the positions he currently knows how to play — first base, third base and the corner outfielder spots — are taken in St. Louis. Which is why he was given a homework assignment this offseason: learn second base.
And he has proven to be a hard-working student.
According to beat writer Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Carpenter is performing daily agility drills — like jumping rope — to improve his foot quickness and has been taking grounders at second base at least five days a week for over a month. His father is a high school baseball coach in Texas and knows his way around a fungo bat.
“I want to win that job,” the younger Carpenter told Goold in a recent phone interview. “And worst case, if I can only be adequate (at second base), I could still get a few extra games out there and instead of 300 at-bats, I’ll get 400 at-bats. If I can earn their trust out there at second, that’s possible.”
If Carpenter can pick up the position, Daniel Descalso will be shifted to more of a utility role.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.