Heading into the World Series, these were the three biggest personnel-related questions:
3. Will Daniel Nava man up and grow a $%&@ beard?
2. Will Shelby Miller ever throw another baseball in anger?
1. Will the Cardinals go all pre-1973 and not bother with a DH at all?
Well, we've got an answer to the biggest of those questions:
Craig, the Cardinals' first baseman for most of the regular season, hasn't played this month yet, after also missing most of of September with a foot injury. But now he's back on the roster, and Mike Matheny says Craig will serve as the Cards' Designated Hitter in Games 1 and 2 -- with Matt Adams remaining at first base -- and shifting to pinch-hitting duties when the Serious moves to St. Louis for Game 3.
This might be HUGE ... with the caveat that in the context of a best-of-seven series, just about anything might be huge ... but probably won't be. Still, if we assume the series goes six games, that means that roughly 15 plate appearances will go to a hitter with an 850 career OPS instead of a hitter (collectively speaking) with maybe a 600 OPS?
Seriously. Without Craig, the Cardinals' only options for those plate appearances would have been a bunch of guys who hit like shortstops. So again, in the context of a best-of-seven series, this is about as huge as huge gets. It would be better if Craig bats left-handed, but you take what you can get. And this is the most the Cardinals could hope to get.
Will he be rusty? Sure, maybe. But muscle memory's a wonderful thing. If he's healthy, the time off shouldn't hurt Craig a whole lot. Buddy Lewis spent most of World War II flying rickety airplanes, but rejoined the Washington Senators in the summer of 1945 and batted .333 down the stretch. If you've spent most of your life hitting, you're not going to forget how to hit after six weeks. And with Allen Craig in the lineup and Daniel Nava out, I'm suddenly feeling pretty good about the Cardinals' chances.
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