St. Louis Cardinals: Randal Grichuk blasting his way back into lineup

Randal Grichuk had a horrendous start to his 2017 campaign, warranting a demotion to Triple-A. While in the minors, all he did was crush balls out of the park. He’s continued that trend in his return to the big leagues.

One swing of the bat was all it took for baseball fans to remember that Randal Grichuk still exists.

The outfielder clobbered a 478-foot moonshot off Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl Sunday into “Big Mac Land” at Busch Stadium – something reminiscent of when he clubbed an upper-deck bomb in September of 2015.

Grichuk followed up his return to the big leagues with an encore Monday against the Reds, sending a ball well over the center-field fence against Austin Brice. Two games, two homers.

With Dexter Fowler back on the disabled list due to a foot injury, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny decided to give Grichuk another shot. The 25 year old posted a dismal .222/.276/.377 line through 167 at-bats and averaged nearly a strikeout per every four at-bats before being optioned to Triple-A last month.

The short stint in the minors turned into a showcase of Gricuk’s power – he mashed six bombs in just 14 games. Now he returns to the Cardinals with a renewed confidence in his swing, prepared to take advantage of the playing time he will receive with Fowler’s absence.

Fowler, on the 10-day DL for the second time in 2017, is leaving big shoes to fill.

The 31-year-old veteran has pieced together a productive season in the power department, despite boasting a discouraging .245 average and .336 on-base percentage. He’s already swatted as many home runs as he did in all of last season, and has accumulated 35 RBI – he drove in 48 last year.

Grichuk is what the Cardinals need at this point in the season – someone that can help propel a team that has struggled in the past few weeks. Sure, one player can’t carry the offense enough to clinch victories, but they could provide a needed boost.

That’s what Grichuk has done during his two games back. The Cards hadn’t scored more than three runs in the three games before his return.

The former Texas product joins the outfield carousel that’s spun around plenty of times in St. Louis. Fowler, Kolten Wong, Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez as options in the outfield.

Wong and Fowler are both hurt, but upon their return, Matheny will have some tough decisions to make, especially with Pham’s breakout and Wong’s partial resurgence. Pham has hit .281 with nine home runs and an .859 OPS. Wong has been just as good, sporting a .301 average with an .837 OPS.

Piscotty and Fowler are more likely the guaranteed starters, just because of their pedigree and experience. That third choice could be difficult to make.

Grichuk can make it much easier if he continues to rake like he has in the past two days.

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