St. Louis Cardinals turn to outfield platoon amid offensive struggles
The St. Louis Cardinals are struggling and have resorted to platooning all three outfielders.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in a funk. Every player seems to be in a cold spell, and the outfielders might be hit the hardest. Manager Oliver Marmol announced that going forward, the entire outfield will be a platoon: Against right-handers, the outfield will comprise Corey Dickerson, Lars Nootbaar and Alec Burleson. Against lefties, it will be Juan Yepez, Dylan Carlson and possibly Brendan Donovan.
This isn’t a situation the Cardinals want in September, especially in a spell where they play the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. Ideally, this would have been arranged when the team was playing against the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates. However, Dickerson was on a hot streak, so the situation didn’t appear as critical as it does now.
The player who has scuffled the most is probably Dylan Carlson, and that’s frightening given how much faith the Cardinals have put in him. In August and September, Carlson has hit just .204. Against right-handers, the stats are even more abysmal at .140. He’s six for 43.
The Cardinals will need Yepez to be productive out of the gate. He was injured earlier in the year and demoted to Triple-A when he returned, but he did well at the plate before he was hurt.
Defense is another concern with the outfield platoon. Yepez is a liability in the field, as is Dickerson. Burleson is adequate but has a below-average arm. Carlson and Nootbaar are the only fielders who are above average. While the trade of Harrison Bader for Jordan Montgomery has paid off for the Cardinals in pitcher production, the effect on outfield defense is noticeable.
Replacing Gorman with Yepez raises another issue: Paul DeJong will have to play more since an infield spot has been freed up. He has not reached the Mendoza Line and is virtually a black hole in the lineup.
The Cardinals need to get their outfield sorted and productive in a hurry, because at this rate, they will be a quick exit from the playoffs. There is still time for the team to turn it around at the end of the season, but the 17-game winning streak last year couldn’t feel more distant.