2015 NLDS Primer: Tommy Pham in the Starting Lineup for Game 3
By Chris Gigley
Heading into the playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals active roster boasted a combined 586 games of postseason experience, most among all of this year’s postseason teams. Outfielder Tommy Pham had none of it, but he gets the start tonight in center field. And he could be the guy to take down Chicago Cubs all-world ace Jake Arrieta.
Pham, of course, has already shaken off his playoff jitters by hammering a pinch homer in game one, giving the Cards the go-ahead run in the win. According to the Cardinals Department of Communications, he became just the third Redbird rookie to homer in his first postseason plate appearance and the fourth to homer in his first game. Which is nice.
Whether he homers again tonight is anyone’s guess. On the one hand, Pham’s home/road splits put the odds in his favor. Don’t be offended, St. Louis, but the outfielder hits better when he’s far away from you. He’s a .290 career hitter on the road and a .226 batter at home. Four of his five career big league home runs have come somewhere other than Busch Stadium, and he’s driven in double the number of runs (12 vs. six at home) in the road grays, too.
Most of that damage, however, came in two starts at Miller Park in Milwaukee and three more at Petco Park in San Diego. And in his 25 career at bats at Wrigley Field, Pham has mustered just four hits — one of which was a dinger off Jon Lester — good for a measly .160 average at the Friendly Confines. Which is not so nice.
Pham has seen Arrieta thrice. He singled off the Cubs’ ace, and Arrieta walked him on another occasion. No strikeouts, so that’s something.
Look, there’s no telling what will happen. The numbers certainly didn’t suggest he’d homer off Lester in Game One. Yes, he’d done it before, but that was Pham’s only hit in six at bats against the southpaw. Pham himself admitted to reporters after game one that he just got lucky.
Here’s hoping that luck hasn’t worn off.