Cardinals notebook: Corey Dickerson has top MLB average since All-Star break | St. Louis Cardinals

PITTSBURGH — Baseball’s top hitter for average since the All-Star break? Why, Corey Dickerson, of course.

The Cardinals’ outfielder, an old-school type who guides the ball wherever it’s pitched and sometimes when it’s not even a strike, was hitting an even .400 at 38 for 95 since late July. He has been an integral part of the Cardinals’ lineup, especially against right-handed pitching, and has had a lot to do with the Cardinals winning 29 of their first 40 games since July 27.

“He does it differently than anybody I’ve seen,” said manager Oliver Marmol before Saturday night’s game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It’s just his ability to take a pitch that’s nowhere close to the zone and get (a) barrel on it. He’ll do it to all fields.

“Once he gets going, you can see how he hits for average (.290),” Marmol said. The prime example was Dickerson collecting 10 hits in succession in a recent series in Chicago.

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Dickerson, 33, has kept himself in the lineup when he played infrequently in the first half because of a nagging calf injury and other players were performing better. He found himself in the prime spot of hitting in front of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado when he was moved to the No. 2 spot on Saturday.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak signed Dickerson for $5 million, mostly to serve as a designated hitter. But Harrison Bader was hurt and then traded and both Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson have been hurt.

“In an era where strikeouts are king,” said Mozeliak, “it’s nice to have somebody on your lineup who has the ability to put the ball in play.

“Seasons are long. There’s always going to be ups and downs and lulls. You sign certain players to do certain things. Most likely, if you’re patient enough, you will see that. If you’re not patient and you react to the moment, that’s when mistakes get made.

“He’s really been quite impressive over the last month-and-a-half.”

Romero will be a late lefty

The recall from Memphis of left-hander Packy Naughton, gives the Cardinals three left-handers in the bullpen, with Marmol saying that JoJo Romero would be his late-innings lefty, with former late-inning specialist Genesis Cabrera still in the minors.

Marmol said there had been an uptick in Cabrera’s performance at Memphis but Marmol said, “I want to continue to see it.” Right-hander James Naile was optioned to Memphis to make room for Naughton.

Yepez remains at Memphis

Juan Yepez, who had 11 homers with the Cardinals in about half a season, remains at Memphis getting everyday at-bats when few are available here, with veteran slugger Albert Pujols getting first crack at left-handers in late-game, pinch-hitting situations.

Marmol said, “I’ve been trying to gauge when he would get at-bats up here and it’s been very limited.” Pittsburgh, for instance, has but one left-handed reliever but Milwaukee, the next opponent, has multiple southpaws in the bullpen.

“The reality is when was he going to play here?” Mozeliak said. But, there are three-plus weeks remaining in the regular season and potential postseason and Mozeliak said, “There are a lot of things that can happen. Getting as many at-bats as possible is in his best interest.”

Longer minor league schedules can keep fringe players or those coming off injuries stay sharp.

With the big-league rosters now raised only to 28 in September rather than as many as 40, some players who might have come up to sit on the bench can get important at-bats or innings in the minors.

Marmol cited left-hander Steven Matz (torn ligament in left knee), who was able to retire only three hitters at Class AA Springfield Saturday night, giving up three hits and two runs while walking one in one official inning. He threw 35 pitches, 23 for strikes.

Matz won’t be employed — at least not right away — as a late left-hander out of the bullpen, such as facing Los Angeles’ Freddie Freeman in less than two weeks “unless I’m feeling froggy,” joked Marmol.

“I don’t want to speak in absolutes.”

Mozeliak said, “The September rules limiting you to 28 players required the minor league seasons to be extended. Otherwise you’d be in ‘no-man’s land.’ Where do people train? Are they on options? It gets very confusing. But now that you no longer have 40 players on your roster, it makes total sense.”

Mozeliak said he preferred 28 to 40 because not every team in September had the same number of players active for a game. “I always struggled with the idea of ​​(playing) five months with one rule and in the most important month of the year, you have some teams with a 30-man roster and some teams with a 40-man roster,” he said.

“For fairness and equality of play, this makes a lot of sense.”

Edman takes a break

Cardinals shortstop Tommy Edman, although he was riding a hitting streak of 12 games, was given a “mental” day off, Marmol said, before a scheduled day off on Monday. Paul DeJong was at shortstop because Marmol thought he could handle sinker-baller JT Brubaker of the Pirates. … Paul Goldschmidt, on his 35th birthday, got part of a day off. He didn’t have to play in the field, instead serving as the designated hitter. And Lars Nootbaar, nothing for 20, missed a rare start against a right-hander. But Marmol, kiddingly, said, “He’s smart enough — and crazy enough — to be just fine. If he was too much on the intellectual side, then I’d be a little worried.”

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