Keep A Spot for Choate

By Friday morning, the St. Louis Cardinals must submit their playoff roster for the National League Divisional Series and one of the more intriguing questions regarding those 25 players centers around Randy Choate. With the potential of key, late situations with lefty bats Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs or Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the plate, the role for Choate–a LOOGY (lefty only one out guy) would seem a lock.

But with scattered appearances down the stretch and Tyler Lyons turning in some key innings, the inclusion of Choate has been of major discussion for roster prognosticators.

Those against the idea will point out batters hit .351 in the second half of the season against Choate, as opposed to .239 in the first half. Those arguing on his behalf might note the 57 inherited runners with 8 (14%) of them coming in to score–which was 4th best in the National League.

Looking at his performance against the Cubs and Pirates this season, Choate faced a total of 23 batters (.227, 5-22). Good numbers, but the breakdown tells even more of the story.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis CardinalsChoate vs CHC

May 6th vs CHC…Six pitches for three batters as Dexter Fowler grounded out, Chris Coghlan fouled out, and Anthony Rizzo grounded out 4-3.

June 26th vs CHC…Two pitches in the 9th resulted in a fly ball from Matt Szczur.

July 7th at CHC…Herrera leads off the 8th with a single off Choate, which is followed by a Dexter Fowler double and Anthony Rizzo home run.

July 8th at CHC…Choate rebounds the next day and strikes out Anthony Rizzo in five pitches.

September 7th vs CHC….Dexter Fowler walked, Austin Jackson struck out, Chris Coghlan lined out to left, and Choate closed out a scoreless 6th inning by striking out Anthony Rizzo.

September 18th at CHC…Choate gets Rizzo to pop out to 2B in the 6th inning.

With the exception of the July 7th game, Choate delivered exactly what was expected of him against the Cubs.

Choate vs PIT

May 1st vs PIT…Gregory Polanco strikes out against Choate to end the 10th inning.

May 2nd vs PIT…Right-handed bat Corey Hart pinch-hits for Polanco, but strikes out looking on six pitches.

May 3rd vs PIT…Top of the 7th and two pitches from Choate results in Polanco grounding out 4-3.

July 9th at PIT…Gregory Polanco lines out to left center.

July 11th at PIT…Five pitches as Polanco and Neil Walker both ground out in the bottom of the 9th.

July 12th at PIT…Gregory Polanco beats out a bunt single.

September 4th vs PIT…Polanco infield single to load the bases.

Even more so than against Chicago, Choate performed his role against the Pirates this season.

Lyons made eight appearances in September, only two of them were less than one inning but they were against the Pirates and Cubs.

September 6th vs PIT…An error, a pop foul, and then a 2-run homer to Starling Marte in 0.1 innings at Pittsburgh.

September 18th at CHC…Kyle Schwarber strikes out looking, Austin Jackson walks, Anthony Rizzo hit by a pitch, and Tony La Stella grounds out 4-3 in a scoreless 0.2 in relief of Lance Lynn.

What do these numbers suggest?? The argument is more likely not between Choate or Lyons making the roster, but between Lyons or Carlos Villanueva. With the ability of Lyons to provide long innings, Villanueva may be the odd man out as Choate would then be available for that key lefty in middle innings and keep Kevin Siegrist available for the back end of the bullpen.

photo credit: Billy Hurst, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

 

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