The tale of two days for Randal Grichuk

When yesterday’s game wrapped up Randal Grichuk’s box score line left many fans wondering whether there was such a thing as a platinum sombrero. If you don’t know why, a golden sombrero is when you strike out four times in the same game. After the 14 inning loss to the New York Mets, Grichuk’s line read 0-for-6 with 5 strikeouts.

It seems that Grichuk wasn’t ready for a return to the big leagues after his injury. He needed a rehab trip to the minors to get his timing back.

What a difference one night makes.

Grichuk once again got the nod last night against left handed starter Jon Niese. When he was placed second in the batting lineup there was some derision on Twitter, but Grichuk made Mike Matheny look like a genius.

Grichuk went off last night, going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, a pair of doubles, and a triple.

For Grichuk, these last two nights have perfectly illustrated his potential and his problems. One night he can look like a transformative player and another night, he is prone to striking out and struggles.

With the strong performance last night, Grichuk saw his season batting average jump from .190 to .269, the blessing of only having 27 plate appearances on the season. Of his seven hits, six of them have been for extra bases.

His potential is obvious to anyone who watches him play a game like last night. The question is always whether he can adjust on the fly and start becoming a player worth playing against right handed pitching.

Grichuk is carrying a line of .308/.357/.615 against left handed pitchers while just a line of .231/.231/.615 against right handed pitchers. Obviously that’s tagged with a small sample size, but the trend continues when you peek at his splits from the minors.

Last season in Memphis, Grichuk hit .297/.337/.627 with 15 home runs against left handed pitching. Meanwhile he hit .235/.289/.396 with 13 home runs against right handed pitching.

It seems like Grichuk’s power plays both ways, but it’s his ability to hit for average that takes a big hit when facing right handed pitching. That’s the biggest hurdle that he will need to jump going forward if he wants to prove that the Cardinals don’t need to re-sign Jason Heyward and should instead turn that job over to him next season.

Of course, he could always take over center field too. I predicted in the offseason that Grichuk would earn the starting center fielder job by the end of the season. I still stand by that. And games like last night are why.