Mike Matheny’s Gamble Paid Off
Manager Mike Matheny took a lot of criticism for the lineups that he decided to start in yesterday’s game against the Braves (including my article). As it turned out, Matheny made the correct decision to bench Jedd Gyorko and Randal Grichuk to start Aledmys Diaz at shortstop and red hot Jeremy Hazelbaker in center field.
Hazelbaker went 1-4 with an RBI, run scored and a walk while Diaz went 2-4 with a RBI, run scored and a walk. They were crucial in the Redbirds’ rout of the Atlanta Braves.
In the beginning of the game, Hazelbaker started to make noise by drawing a walk and stealing a base. In the 4th inning, Hazelbaker laid down a beautiful bunt for a base hit, too far in front of the third baseman Adonis Garcia. He also had a sacrifice fly in the 5th inning to increase the Cardinals lead to 7-2.
Diaz also had a strong game highlighted by a RBI triple in the 8th inning. He made a few impressive plays at shortstop and proved that he is an large improvement over Gyorko.
— STLCards SPORTalk (@SPORTalkCards) April 10, 2016
Ultimately, the lineup change resulted in a 10-run outburst for the Cardinals. Hazelbaker batting second is a perfect table setter for the big hitters in the middle of the lineup. Diaz also cemented himself as a staple in the end of the Cards lineup. Diaz should be a serious everyday option for the Cardinals at shortstop instead of Gyorko.
Diaz is younger and has much more potential. The Cardinals have money invested into Gyorko and will be reluctant to give up on him so early in the season. Matheny’s moves truly paid off but, unfortunately, it is doubtful that he has the confidence in the young players to produce everyday. If he listens to me more often, the Cardinals starting lineup will see a lot more Hazelbaker and Diaz.