You hear that? The roller coaster is getting put back on the tracks. Ladies and gents, Randal Grichuk has returned after an 18 game absence. Suddenly, from the shadows of doubt, disbelief and an unknown rehab schedule, the Rosenberg, Texas product is stable again. I couldn’t have been more surprised looking down at my phone and seeing the press release. Where was the timetable? The elbow strain that was combustible for weeks but now is back in session. What does Grichuk mean to this team when healthy? Randal’s impact to this Cardinals’ lineup when healthy is comparable to a new ride opening at Six Flags. Just watch and admire.
Another smoking gun waiting for his chance in what is expected to be a closely contested game at Busch Stadium. He is one of the few players on this team that can’t make the starting lineup yet still linger just as deadly. Clint Hurdle will be thinking about Grichuk the entire night. That’s the Grichuk effect in a nutshell. An oncoming storm that you must prepare for in advance. The kid can fail to get the sweet spot of the barrel on the ball and still hit out to right center field for a home run. That’s how good he is.
What was he doing before his elbow barked on August 16th? Have you seen the movie, Action Jackson?!!!? Grichuk was among the top rookies in baseball with 15 home runs, 44 RBI, and a .561 slugging percentage. In 289 at bats, Grichuk had an unreal 43 extra base hits. With a full slate of 550 at bats, Grichuk would end up with 75-80 extra base hits. He’s a special kind of lethal.
The drawbacks aren’t hard to recognize. His 97 strikeouts in the same low number of at bats(34 percent) signal a kid still getting to know the strike zone. A student with a few credit hours to go before he graduates from the Sombrero watch. It’s also important to remember the ripe young age of Grichuk(24 years old). With only 399 at bats to date, Grichuk has plenty of time to cut down on the strikeouts but here’s the fun part. The explosive bat will not go away any time soon. He’s learning to take outside heaters to right field and lay at least one slider per four sent to the plate. If this is a learning curve, what does the finished product look like next year?
Matt Holliday and Matt Adams are also expected back this month, but Grichuk’s bat brings the most excitement. The Cardinals have plenty of on base specialists. They need the cannon inserted into the middle of the sparklers to ignite everything. That’s Grichuk in a nutshell. Ignition.
What’s my lineup when Grichuk is ready? Matt Carpenter, Stephen Piscotty, Jhonny Peralta, Jason Heyward, Randal Grichuk, Yadier Molina, Matt Adams, and Kolten Wong. That’s a layered explosive device that will be set off at Busch before the homestand is over.
The Cardinals offense has found its way in the past two weeks but could use a boost. Now with Grichuk back, the run production should only increase. Sitting with 92 wins, the best team in baseball is only going to get stronger in the next few weeks. How hard it must be to witness from the outside of The Lou?
The appeal of Grichuk is universal and even appeals to the casual baseball fan, like my wife. When I asked her where Grichuk should hit, her response was simple. “4th because he’s hot and he can clean up.” Unlike most Cardinals who people have a hard time remembering, Randal Grichuk isn’t easy to forget. He may strike out, hit a 410 foot home run or whiz a single past the pitcher’s ear. All in one night. He’s an experience.
And that experience has returned.
Have a good night and thanks for stopping by.