(BaseballStL) -- The Redbirds come home to face off against the Marlins on Friday with a fresh batting order at Roger Dean Stadium after taking down the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Thursday. Jake Westbrook makes his 3rd start of the spring backed by the following lineup:
1) Rafael Furcal - SS
2) Carlos Beltran - RF
3) Matt Holliday - LF
4) David Freese - 3B
5) Lance Berkman - 1B
6) Yadier Molina - C
7) Jon Jay - CF
8) Tyler Greene - 2B
9) Skip Schumaker - DH
Westbrook will be followed by a group consisting of Eduardo Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs, Trevor Rosenthal and RJ Swindle.
Storylines to watch for:
-- This is the first we've seen of this sort of batting order in which Beltran finds his way into the #2 spot in the order and Jon Jay drops to the bottom because of it. Matheny has said he could see himself doing a lot of different combinations to find what fits best. Like before, though not to this extent, the middle of the order has huge amounts of pop that needs to be set up by the top of the order. Tony La Russa used to typically have the 2nd spot in the lineup as someone who was young and improving or someone who was struggling. That was because you get some really good pitches in front of Albert Pujols. Well, without Pujols here anymore that changes things. Matt Holliday is a fantastic hitter...but teams aren't as scared to walk someone in front of Holliday as they were to Pujols. Now more than ever it's going to be critical to get some good production out of that spot. There's no #5 to make up for a lack of base runners in front of him. The Cards are going to need to spread the production around the order instead of having it focused into one or two guys. Getting Beltran into that second spot in the lineup would add incredible power that the team hasn't had there in a long time.
-- David Freese hits 4th with Lance Berkman 5th. For today, it's undoubtedly something that Mike Matheny is just tinkering with and not setting in stone. But it's worth noting that Freese has put himself in the conversation to hit in that cleanup spot this season. Berkman might get there more often...but with what Freese did in October he has shown that he is capable of handling a pressurized spot such as that. It will be interesting to see how Matheny handle the lineup this season. Will he be like Tony La Russa in that he changes it every single day? Will someone hit 2nd one day, 6th the next and not play the next? Or will it be much more stable as far as putting the same 8 guys in the same spots in the field and the same spots in the order? No one really knows at this point.
-- Eduardo Sanchez has been filthy this spring. Just flat out incredible to the point where Matheny even said his stuff has been "perfect". If this continues it's going to be a very interesting story as far as who makes the final roster in the bullpen. With 12 pitchers likely being kept and 5 starters set in stone there's room for a typical 7-man bullpen. In the mix are Mark Rzepczynski, Jason Motte, Fernando Salas, Kyle McClellan, JC Romero, Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs, Lance Lynn and Scott Linebrink. Rzepczynski, Motte, Salas, Lynn and McClellan figure to be locks barring a trade. Boggs has struggled. Linebrink's been okay. Sanchez has dominated but retains options back to AAA if necessary. Romero is the only other lefty but could they keep just one left-hander and go with the rest righties? It's too early to say...but to start camp it looked like Sanchez would be one of the odd men out due to the fact they could send him to the minors and bring him up to St. Louis later on. With his dominance in spring that may not be necessary.
-- For the future, keep an eye on Trevor Rosenthal. He's a prospect who won't make the team but could be a good one down the road in a couple years. He's got a big arm that can reach up to 97 miles per hour. At the moment, he's a starter so he can work on all of his pitches and get a feel for as many innings as possible. But his stuff projects to play much better in the bullpen. That'll be his role if and when he does reach St. Louis one day. Several third party publications rated Rosenthal as a top 100 prospect. If you have a chance to check him out today...watch the radar gun and you'll see why.
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