When he was in the lineup, Dexter Fowler performed similarly to the last several seasons. The problem continues to be durability as he failed to play more than 125 games for the fourth time in his last five campaigns. Despite playing in a home park that depresses homers for the first time in his career, Fowler set a career high in long balls. On the flip side, largely due to the Cardinals' team tendencies, Fowler failed to swipe double-digit bases for the first time in a full season in the majors. In addition, perhaps due to the move to the more spacious Busch Stadium, the recent gains Fowler exhibited with the leather were given back as his defensive metrics reverted to well below average. Running less, continued health issues and declining defense do not bode well for anyone, but for someone on the wrong side of 30 years old, it limits fantasy potential, especially in mixed leagues.
Fowler went 2-for-3 with three RBI from a two-run double and sacrifice fly in Tuesday's 11-4 Grapefruit League win over the Marlins. He also scored once. The veteran enjoyed a much-needed breakout performance while serving as the table-setter the Cardinals are hoping he can prove to be all season. Fowler's strong afternoon still served to only bring his spring average to .200 over 30 plate appearances, a testament to the extent of the struggles he's endured. With his first multi-hit outing of the exhibition slate under his belt, Fowler will look to build some momentum during the latter half of spring training heading into the regular season.
Fowler, who went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run in Thursday's 5-4 Grapefruit League win over the Marlins, is just 2-for-15 in his first seven spring training games. The veteran outfielder has a double among his two hits, along with four walks and three runs, so his spring hasn't been a total washout thus far. However, it's a stark departure from Fowler's debut camp with the Cardinals last season, one in which he hit .349 across 43 at-bats. Then again, Fowler was unable to parlay that success into a hot start during the regular season, as his .222 average over the first 52 games of 2017 led to a demotion from the leadoff spot. The 31-year-old is scheduled for a second go-around at the top of the order to kick off 2018, and the fact he considerably brought up his numbers by season's end last year (.264/.363/.488 and a career-high 18 home runs and 64 RBI) serves as evidence he appears to still have plenty left in the tank.
Manager Mike Matheny said Fowler will probably begin the season as the Cardinals' leadoff hitter, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Fowler opened the 2017 campaign atop the team's order, but he was eventually dropped to third -- with Matt Carpenter taking over as the leadoff man -- after struggling to a .222/.317/.423 line in his first 52 games as the No. 1 hitter. He'll get another shot to prove he can be the tablesetter St. Louis signed to a five-year contract prior to the 2017 campaign. If he sticks atop the order all season, his RBI count may regress closer to his 2016 total while his runs scored should enjoy a nice spike.
Fowler is not in the lineup Sunday against the Brewers. Fowler will sit out his third consecutive game as the Cardinals close out the regular season against Aaron Wilkerson and the Brewers. Harrison Bader takes over in center field, batting fifth.
Fowler is out of Saturday's lineup against the Brewers. He will miss a second straight contest as the Cardinals look to get some of their younger players more reps before the end of the season. Harrison Bader is starting in center field and hitting sixth.
|vs SYNDERGAARD (CAREER)||0/3||.000||0||0||0||0||1|