Yesterday Brandon Moss was placed on the DL and Randal Grichuk was called back up after 18 days in AAA. Is he ready?
To start, Moss going down with an ankle injury is a tough blow for the Cardinals. He currently leads the team in home runs (17), is second in slugging percentage (.566) and is 5th in RBIs (40). And he has been heating up recently, hitting .307 with 8 homers, 16 RBIs, and a .705 slugging percentage since June 1st. But the Cardinals have had injuries before, and they will have them again (plus nothing could be worse than last year), so the next question is who is going to step up?
Randal Grichuk will certainly get a chance to do so. After hitting .276 last year we were excited and hopeful for him to begin his 2016 campaign. To our dismay, however, he was hitting .206 through the first third of the season and was thus sent down to AAA.
So before we get into Grichuk, let’s backtrack to when Kolten Wong was sent down to Memphis earlier this season. After beginning the season hitting .222, Wong was optioned to Memphis where he thrived. He hit .429 in seven games with 4 homers and 11 RBIs, and since his return to the Cards he has been hitting .275.
Now to Grichuk. In 15 games with the Redbirds he hit .283 with 5 homers and 15 RBIs. The 15 RBIs in 15 games is promising, but his .291 OBP is a bit worrisome. That being said, in 8 games with Memphis, Jeremy Hazelbaker has been hitting .360 with a .484 OBP, and he wasn’t the one called up.
Brandon Moss placed on the 15-day DL. Randal Grichuk recalled from AAA Memphis. #STLCards
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 5, 2016
So what should we expect?
I don’t think we can expect Grichuk to come back and immediately perform like the player that we want to see. He simply didn’t show enough progress in the minors. But I think he is going to get there. The Cardinals management had enough faith in Grichuk’s progress to call him up at a time when the team desperately needs to win games to stay in the heat of the Wild Card race and in range of the Cubs (we still have a chance). Hazelbaker hit .250 and after doing well in AAA could be expected to come back even better, signifying that Mo likely thinks Grichuk will outperform what Hazelbaker would have been able to do.
Without Moss, Holliday should see some time at first. Plus with a .220 hitting Pham, Grichuk will get plenty of opportunities. Although he didn’t return to peak form during his time in Memphis, he did pick up some momentum. And with the plethora of opportunities he’ll get on the major league roster he should continue to improve until he becomes the player we need.
If (hopefully when) that happens, then upon Moss’s return the Cardinals can send down Pham and play with a hot Piscotty, reliant Matt Holliday and improving Randal Grichuk. An outfield set for success.
So now as we approach the halfway mark we’ll have to monitor Grichuk. If he can continue improving each day (which we think he can) then by the time the playoffs come around, we’ll be in the mix and with one more guy ready to help the team make a deep run.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry – USA Today Sports