(BaseballStL) – While both Randal Grichuk and Pete Kozma spent most of the season playing in Memphis, Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny says he will rely on both players to help the Cards through their push to keep the top spot in the NL Central.
Grichuk, batting second against the Rockies Saturday, has been a different player in his latest trip to the big club, according to Matheny, citing Grichuk’s exceptional abilities at the plate, on the bases and in the outfield.
“All that together makes him an exciting player. It’s hard not to play him,” Matheny continued, “What I see is confidence. [He] doesn’t have to prove himself anymore. When he walks [to the plate], you can see he has faith in himself.”
Kozma makes another start at second base as Matheny avoids setting up too many lefties against Rockies southpaw Franklin Morales.
“Pete is doing a great job,” Matheny added, “He does beyond what most people expect defensively and we know he can put together some big at-bats.”
With Saturday’s start, Matheny said he’s hoping to keep Kozma fresh in case the Redbirds need him to play a bigger role down the stretch.
“Just keeping him sharp is important,” he said, “It’s hard to find time at second base. We do know what he brings to the table. We know it’s proven. It’s not just a guess, it’s a known commodity.”
Miller puts scoreless innings streak on the line
Shelby Miller is riding on the third longest active consecutive scoreless innings streak in the NL at 14.0 innings, which is just 0.2 innings shy of his all time record.
Matheny credits Miller’s most recent success to the young right-hander’s reliance on his other pitches, not just his fastball, stating that for most of the season Miller had been relying on his four-seam fastball.
“He’s living on one pitch, which is unheard of in this league,” Matheny said, “He’s smart enough to realize he better do some different things. He’s putting more movement on the ball to make the four-seamer better and the slider and cutter has been better.”
However, the emergence of Miller’s curveball has also added to his ability to keep hitters off balance and Matheny praised catcher Yadier Molina for calling the pitch.
“You have to have a catcher that shows you, not just tell you, ‘Hey, it’s a good pitch.’ But when he gets out there and calls four in a row, it says he does believe in this in big situations and he’s not afraid to call it. And I’m going to throw it with some confidence,” Matheny said.
The last time Miller faced the Rockies at Busch was back in May of 2013 when he gave up a lead-off hit to Eric Young, Jr. and the retired the next 27 batters.