Chicago Cubs: With Cardinals in free-fall, what lies ahead for the NL Central?
By Jake Misener
With no reinforcements, where do the Cards turn?
Stephen Piscotty, Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk are supposedly the future of the St. Louis franchise.
If I were a Cardinals fan, I’d be more than a little worried. That would be the equivalent of the Cubs banking on the likes of Addison Russell. Sure, there’s a good deal of talent there – but he’s an unproven asset who is incredibly sporadic in his performance.
Let’s start with Piscotty. He burst onto the scene in 2015, finishing sixth in NL RoY voting,. But since then, his OPS has plummeted from .853 his rookie season down to .702 in 2017, prompting the Cards to demote him to Memphis.
He has the tools to lead the league in doubles. He hits the ball hard on a line – as he has since he was drafted in the first round. But he continues to fail in making adjustments and big-league pitchers are having their way with him.
Diaz, who earned an All-Star selection in 2016, has been arguably the biggest disappointment to the Cardinals this year. With an OBP south of .300, the shortstop isn’t building on his breakout season. Instead, like the Cubs’ Russell, he’s allowed bad habits to derail him at the plate.
OBP woes plaguing the youngsters
Meanwhile, Grichuk, another of the team’s bright rising stars not so long ago, has been back-and-forth between Memphis and St. Louis.
The outfielder belted 24 home runs last year for the Cardinals. Paired with Piscotty and Diaz, Grichuk represented a potential controllable core in St. Louis. But, like the other two, he’s struggled. Between 2016 and 2017, he owns a disappointing .285 OBP. Of course, he’s been a Cubs killer – but that’s not going to get you a starting gig.
Disappointment mounts – can Matheny hold his temper with his young core struggling?