After scoring just four runs combined in the last three games, the St. Louis Cardinals have moved Matt Carpenter back to the lead off spot to face lefty Trevor Williams and the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon.
Carpenter had a hit in last night’s game and has seen his average climb 60-points over the last week and a half.
“Yeah, the at-bats have been better as of late,” said Carpenter at the end of this last homestand. “Just need to start putting them together more and more consistently.”
A couple of weeks ago, Mike Matheny voiced his confidence that Carpenter was close and had recently told hitting coach John Mabry he had found “it” during a batting session.
Exactly what is “it”?
“A clean pass at the ball,” explained Carpenter. “When you’re going through rough spells, you get kind of long. I was able to clean that up.”
Over the last 10 days, Carpenter leads the National League with 14 hits–7 of them have been doubles. During this stretch, he has hit .389 (14-36) and has an OPS of 1.103.
Mixed with the good have also been 7 strikeouts, more than one of them coming on pitches he felt were out of the strike zone.
“When a guy doesn’t throw a ton of strikes and you’ve got an umpire that’s calling it, it makes it tough on a guy like me, who doesn’t swing,” said Carpenter, who described this past Wednesday as “just one of those games.”
Not every pitch that Carpenter let’s go is a ball, but over the last few seasons, Baseball Savant, Fan Graphs, and other platforms have shown that he is consistently among the leaders on receiving non-strikes called as strikes.
“I don’t change my approach based on the umpire,” said Carpenter. “Just stay with it and hope that he gets it right.”
In 12 career plate appearances against Williams, Carpenter is hitting .275 (3-8) with a HR, 4 RBIs, 4 BBs, and 1 strikeout.
Strangely enough, the Cardinals have not faced a left-handed pitcher in their last 264 plate appearances. On May 17th, Philadelphia’s Adam Morgan was the last southpaw to throw a pitch against them.
Today's #STLCards lineup (5/26):
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 26, 2018
photo credit: Jeff Curry, Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports