The two MLB leagues having different numbers of teams, 16 in the National League and 14 in the American, meant interleague play was never symmetric. Being in the oddball six-team NL Central often meant the St. Louis Cardinals were in the midst of the resulting scheduling irregularities.
This season is no different. When the Cardinals take the field in Detroit Tuesday night, they will be the last NL team to play a road interleague game this season. With it comes their first opportunity to deploy the designated hitter.
The Cardinals plan to shift the responsibility among several fatigued and banged up players, including Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig. It wouldn’t be crazy if Yadier Molina or even Rafael Furcal might even take a turn at DH, though the expected return of Skip Schumaker from the disabled list will take some pressure off the depleted bench.
Matt Adams seems the most likely recipient of the extra DH-driven at-bats as the extra player most likely to be inserted into the lineup when one of the others sits. Of course, the rookie first baseman has never faced Detroit.
Here are some career numbers of the Cardinals hitters against the two scheduled Tigers starters, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello plus closer Jose Valverde. “Papa Grande” is familiar to the Cardinals as he spent two years in the NL Central as the Astros’ ninth-inning man following his 2003-07 stint with Arizona. Detroit’s Thursday starter, Jacob Turner, will be making his 2012 debut.
Despite the frequent interleague play between the two clubs, the past histories are still small. It is impossible to draw any firm conclusions, but at least the limited numbers look pretty good for the Cardinals. (Blank cells mean pitcher and hitter have never met.)
|Justin Verlander||Rick Porcello||Jose Valverde|
|Carlos Beltran||0-3 .000 2K||1-3 .333||2-5 .400 1BB|
|Rafael Furcal||1-6 .167 1K|
|Tyler Greene||2-3 .667|
|Matt Holliday||2-4 .500 2BB 1K||1-5 .200||4-10 .400 1HR 1BB 3K|
|Yadier Molina||9-13 .692 1K||1-3 .333||2-9 .222|
|Skip Schumaker||2-3 .667||1-3 .333||1-7 .143 1BB 2K|
Hat tip to Acta Sports for the data.