Randal Grichuk was drafted one spot ahead of Mike Trout in 2009. That doesn’t really mean anything -- many of the other players taken before Trout have yet to even reach the majors -- but it’s an interesting tidbit and it’s the way I’ve chosen to start this Sunday edition of the Daily Dose.
Grichuk went 3-for-3 with two home runs and a career-high six RBI in the Cardinals’ 12-2 rout of the Mets on Saturday night at Busch Stadium. He drew a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded in the first inning, took an intentional walk in the third inning, hit a two-run shot in the fifth, singled in the seventh, and launched a three-run blast in the eighth. All while hitting in the eighth spot in the Cardinals’ lineup.
Grichuk now boasts a .901 OPS in 211 plate appearances this season. His peripherals (.379 BABIP) suggest that regression is on the way, but the 23-year-old has legitimate power and appears poised to draw regular starts in center field with Matt Holliday back patrolling left field. That means it’s time to drop Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos, if that wasn’t already obvious enough.
“If (Grichuk) can get the consistency down, he’s got a big ceiling,” Saturday’s starting pitcher, John Lackey, told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The ball just jumps off his bat,” added Cardinals reliever Randy Choate. “When you watch him in BP, he hits them up in Big Mac Land all the time.”
Grichuk, now with nine home runs and 32 RBI in 61 games, is looking like a must-own for the second half.
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The Good Kind Of Odor
Another must-own for the stretch run is Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, who has gone 3-for-5 with a triple on back-to-back nights out of the All-Star break. He also homered in Saturday’s victory over the Astros, finishing the night with two runs scored and one RBI.
Odor was demoted to the minors on May 11 with a brutal .144/.252/.233 batting line, but he’s been on an absolute tear since getting recalled June 14. The 21-year-old now sports a .261/.335/.433 season slash, and all those numbers should continue to rise.
Odor has hit second in both games since the break. He carries tremendous potential in that spot.
Lester Shows His Ace Card
Jon Lester hasn’t looked like a $155 million commodity every time out this season, but he sure was special on Saturday.
Lester carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in the Cubs’ 4-0 defeat of the Braves, yielding just two hits and a walk while striking out seven in a start that officially went 7 1/3 frames. Maybe the All-Star break did him some good, because his pitches had incredible life on Saturday night at Turner Field in Atlanta. The 31-year-old left-hander still carries a weak 5-8 record, but he owns a sharp 3.37 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 116/31 K/BB ratio in 117 2/3 total innings this season, and he’s gone seven or longer in four straight starts dating back to the first of July.
Lester will try to keep it all working next week in Cincinnati. He was a good buy-low candidate at one point, but that ship has almost certainly sailed.
National League Quick Hits: Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson (foot) is scheduled to begin a short rehab assignment Sunday at High-A Modesto … Clayton Kershaw fired eight scoreless innings, fanning 14, in a dominant win over the Nationals on Saturday … Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano was a late scratch from his start Saturday against the Brewers due to neck tightness … Bryce Harper slugged his 27th home run of the season Saturday in the Nationals' loss to the Dodgers … Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel (hamstring) threw a side session Saturday without issue and is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Reds … Denard Span (back) was able to play catch on Friday and is close to being cleared to resume hitting … Anthony Rendon (quad) began a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Potomac on Saturday … Giants outfielder Nori Aoki had a CT scan Saturday that showed his fractured right fibula is 80 percent healed … Wil Myers (wrist) has been cleared to begin swinging a bat early next week … Craig Kimbrel nailed down his 25th save of the season Saturday in the Padres' defeat of the Rockies … Phillies right-hander Chad Billingsley felt discomfort in his right elbow during his start Saturday against the Marlins and will visit a doctor … Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI in Saturday’s win over the Pirates … Giants catcher Buster Posey drove in four runs on three singles Saturday against the Diamondbacks.
American League Quick Hits: Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals are pushing hard to acquire Johnny Cueto … Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano blasted a pair of two-run home runs Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium … Carlos Beltran (oblique) is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Sunday … Astros slugger Chris Carter is day-to-day with an ankle injury … Jose Bautista clobbered his 18th home run of the season Saturday in the Blue Jays’ loss to the Rays … Chris Tillman delivered eight shutout innings Saturday in the Orioles' blanking of the Tigers ... Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun went 3-for-3 with two homers and a walk Saturday against the Red Sox … Rays outfielder Steven Souza (finger) remains on track to return from the disabled list on Tuesday … Steven Wright will make a spot start for the Red Sox on Monday night against the Angels … Lorenzo Cain hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the 13th inning Saturday as the Royals bested the White Sox … Carlos Correa slugged his eighth home run Saturday in the Astros' loss to the Rangers … A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir tossed 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball Saturday versus the Twins … Garrett Richards shut out the Red Sox on Saturday, allowing just two hits over nine dominant innings.