St. Louis Cardinals: Four moves to get Cards back in the NLCS

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 12: Atmosphere of Busch Stadium is seen during game two of the National League Championship Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 12, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 12: Atmosphere of Busch Stadium is seen during game two of the National League Championship Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 12, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 21: Jose Martinez #38 of the St. Louis Cardinals at bat during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Start Jose Martinez

Players are streaky, let’s face it. And when you’re hot, you’re hot. Jose Martinez started the season hot, and then cooled off, went on the Injured List, and stayed ice-cold. But during this playoff run, he is four-for-five with a double. And going back to the September 25th “scrubs game” against Arizona where Martinez was given a proper start, he was three-for-five with a double, a triple and two RBIs.

But most importantly, as a pinch-hitter in the first two NLCS games, he is two-for-two. It is almost like the Nationals studied a huge amount of tape on the Cardinals’ starting eight but ran out of time to view Martinez.

Play the hot-hand is practically Rule No. 1 of playoff managing. Playing Cafecito is Shakeup Option #1.

Move Dexter Fowler out of lead-off

I am not a big believer in batting order significance. But if there is one position that is symbolic, it is leadoff. Moving down in the lineup Dexter Fowler, who hit .091 in the NLDS and is 0-for-7 with a walk in the NLCS, would send a signal to the team that manager Mike Shildt is trying something, without having to bench anyone.

This pains me somewhat since Fowler’s taking over the leadoff spot seemed to be a catalyst for the Cardinals this season (as it was for the World Champion Cubs in 2016).  But it has to be depressing to the other players to see their lead-off man hitting at Mendoza-line levels that shouldn’t even be possible.

Fowler has hit the ball hard at times, but as TBS color-commentator Ron Darling pointed out, “unfortunately for Fowler, it is a results-oriented game.”

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