With the news officially coming down today that David Freese has been activated from the DL, the Cardinals officially have a very long and formidable lineup. There wasn’t much question before that the Cardinals have a tough lineup top to bottom, but with Freese back everyone slides down one more spot, and the lineup is even longer, making it much tougher on opposing starting pitchers to successfully navigate without sustaining damage to their Earned Run Averages in the process. Need proof? Just ask Matt Cain and his newly minted 8.38 ERA after the Cardinals, minus Freese, got done with him yesterday.
Today’s lineup vs. Mat Latos:
Surprisingly, Matt Carpenter is getting a day off despite posting a sizzling .320 average that includes 4 doubles and 4 RBI through the first 6 games of the year. The emergence of Carpenter is going to be one of the main stories to watch this season. He is a professional hitter, and I don’t think it’s out of the question to suggest he could produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 home runs and 85 RBI if given a full compliment of at bats. His inclusion in the everyday lineup makes it much more deadly for opponents. Today, however, he will just be an additional bench weapon if a situation arises where a pinch hit is needed.
Latos is set to make his second start of the season, and looked far from unhittable in the first. He did post 8 strikeouts, but he also allowed 7 hits which included 3 earned runs and 2 home runs. Historically, several of the Cardinals have multiple hits against Latos in their careers.
The return of Freese couldn’t have come against a better pitcher as he has posted a .571 batting average against Latos in his career on 4 hits in 7 at bats. With production this solid against Latos, I would say that St. Louis is officially under a Freese warning for today’s game despite the 75 degree temperature. Other notable Birds to watch today are Jay and Molina. Each of them have both had 17 at bats against Latos in their respective careers and each has posted a +.400 average: Jay (.471) and Molina (.412).
Hopefully, Freese announces his return to the lineup with authority today and the Redbirds start off the Home portion of their schedule with a win against the bitter rival Cincinnati Reds, seizing on the emotions of the Home Opener, and getting a leg up in the race for the division title in the process.
Enjoy the day fellow Redbird fans and as always, Go Cards!