Lohse warms up for Opening Day with start against Twins
By KMOV Web Producer
(BaseballStL) -- The Cards return home to Roger Dean Stadium this afternoon to face the Twins as Kyle Lohse makes his 5th start in Grapefruit League play. The Redbirds' Opening Day starter is backed by the following lineup:
1) Daniel Descalso - 2B
2) Carlos Beltran - RF
3) Matt Holliday - LF
4) Lance Berkman - 1B
5) David Freese - 3B
6) Yadier Molina - C
7) Jon Jay - CF
8) Rafael Furcal - SS
9) Kyle Lohse - P
Storylines to follow today:
-- It's been made pretty clear, and now it's unofficially offical with Mike Matheny saying he likes it, that Carlos Beltran is going to hit 2nd in the Redbirds lineup everyday. Matheny makes the point, and I wholeheartedly agree with him, that he wants to get his best hitters to the plate as often as possible. Throw in the fact Beltran is a switch-hitter and he hits for power and you've got one heck of a piece towards the top. What it does, though, is sacrifice depth a little bit later on in the lineup with Molina hitting 6th (something he can do but is ideally suited for 7th) and Jay 7th. With the way Jay hit yesterday and the way he's capable of hitting it's not the end of the world to have him there. When you get towards the bottom of the order sometimes the goal is simply to get through the pitcher's spot in an inning so you have the top of the order coming up in the next inning. Jay is someone who can do a nice job, give you a tough at-bat and make it possible to continue the inning. But when it comes to your pop, I've always been of the mind you want it as close to the top as possible. Then when Allen Craig can get into the game with Beltran playing center...now you've got an insanely powerful lineup.
-- Kyle Lohse makes his 5th start of spring training as he gets ready for his 2nd Opening Day start as a member of the Cardinals. With Chris Carpenter out for, quite possibly, a couple months it is going to come down to some of the others to step up and make up for that production. Adam Wainwright is in a tough situation because he'd be the obvious one to rely on even more. But the Cards have said they're going to be very cautious with him in counting his innings as the year goes on. Will it be 150 innings? I doubt it. But he probably won't get to the 200 innings barrier. Lance Lynn's job is simply to chew up as many frames as possible and give the team a chance. He can't possibly be looked at as someone who will win the Cards games. So I'm looking at 2 guys in particular to pick up major slack. Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia. Lohse is in a contract year and we all know how he did in 2008 with St. Louis when a contract was on the line. I'm in no way saying that's all he cares about...but for any human being...it's a factor. Shelby Miller is lurking as a cost-efficient alternative to someone in 2013 so someone in the current rotation may find themselves elsewhere come next season. All that adds up Lohse having a lot of incentive to pitch very well this year. He's capable of going well over 200 innings and keeping his ERA in the mid 3's. Watch for the team to push Lohse especially hard this year to chew up innings.
-- Once again, Mike Matheny is "looking at" someone other than Rafael Furcal in the leadoff spot. Today it's Daniel Descalso. Matheny can say all he wants that he's just looking at people in certain places as he gets a sense of what he's going to do during the season. But look at the rest of the order. Beltran is 2. Holliday is 3. Berkman, Freese, Molina and Jay are 4-7. The pitcher is 9 (obviously). Everyone else in the order today, and for the last several days, has been exactly where they're projected to be during the regular season. This tells me Furcal is not a lock to hit 1st every single day. He'll get his opportunities for sure. There's no doubt about that. But I could see that spot changing depending on the matchup. If there's someone Furcal doesn't hit particularly well but Descalso does...maybe Greene will get a day off...Descalso will play 2nd and hit 1st. Or Greene could get opportunities there. But that leadoff spot is anything but settled at this point.
-- That leads to another, potentially larger, issue with this team. There's no true leadoff hitter here. Sure there are those than fit the mold of what they're "supposed" to do. Furcal and Descalso come to mind. But no one has the ability right now to step into that spot and lead off 150-155 games a year and get on base at a .375 or higher clip. I see the Cards as a team with 3 #8 hitters (Furcal, Descalso, Greene) and they'll be forced to push one into that #1 spot simply because someone has to hit there. For the future of this team...they've got to find someone who can leadoff. 1st round pick Kolten Wong just might be in AA this season but he's probably not going to be ready til 2014. Maybe at some point in 2013...but not to the point where he'd hit first everyday.
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