Cards to keep hot-hitting Carpenter in leadoff spot
ST. LOUIS -- Though Matt Carpenter has been the Cardinals' most productive run producer through the first two games of the National League Division Series, manager Mike Matheny is not inclined to move his year-long leadoff hitter lower in the batting order, he reiterated on Monday.
Carpenter has batted leadoff in every game he's started this year. The Cardinals found him to be a natural fit in that spot in 2013, and Carpenter's high on-base percentage (he ranked seventh in the NL with a .375 mark this season) gave the Cardinals no reason to adjust. The last time Carpenter started anywhere in the order except at the top was May 1, 2013.
"To me, when we get guys on base, things happen," Matheny said. "We have one of the best on-base guys in the game, why would we not want to capitalize on getting him up there as many times as possible?"
From that leadoff spot, Carpenter drove in six runs with two doubles and two homers in the two NLDS games played at Dodger Stadium.
"Carpenter, to me, the way he is wired is a nice fit in that first spot," Matheny said. "Now, if you had a guy who got on base at a higher percentage than he did and was an absolute burner, could you see him being in that one spot? I could see it. And I could see Carp being in the two spot. I could see Carp being in the three spot. But you'd have to have a couple other guys getting on base at a ridiculous rate, because that, to me, is probably the most important criteria and statistic."
In contrast, one spot in the lineup that will remain fluid throughout the postseason (as it has for much of the season) is the second place in the order. Randal Grichuk has occupied it in the two games started by left-handers. Jon Jay will be there against right-handers.
While Jay is more of a prototypical two-hole hitter -- high on-base percentage, proficient bunter, able to move runners over -- Grichuk profiles more as Carlos Beltran did as the team's No. 2 hitter a year ago by adding some power to the placement.
"Randal stepped up and had some pretty good numbers against left-handed pitching, and we gave him an opportunity, and he responded well," Matheny said. "At that point, we threw some of the conventional ideas out and who could be our best bat to put in that spot, and we really liked how Randal has taken advantage of that.
"There are times when we get [Grichuk] up and realize that he isn't much of a bunter, he knows how to get guys over, but what he does is he thumps. And we want him to swing the bat, and hopefully he can drive something in the gap or over the fence."