Bader, who hit .229 (8-for-35) across 12 Grapefruit League games during spring training, is likely to keep his starting center field job to open the season, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports. Rogers adds that the one exception could be if another outfielder "forces the issue." If other candidates were being evaluated solely from an offensive perspective, it wouldn't be difficult to find more productive alternatives as both Lane Thomas and Dylan Carlson had much better springs at the plate. Nevertheless, Bader's defense is key to likely keeping him in the lineup on a near-everyday basis, but he'll need to improve on the unsightly .205/.314/.366 line and 28.8 percent strikeout rate he generated last season to remain a fixture in the starting lineup throughout the 2020 campaign.
Bader is out of the lineup Wednesday for Game 5 of the Cardinals' NLDS matchup with the Braves. Benched for the third game in a row, Bader appears to have lost his spot in the Cardinals' regular lineup to Matt Carpenter. Given that Bader is batting just .190 with a 37.5 percent strikeout rate since the beginning of September, his move into a reserve role doesn't come as a major shock.
Bader remains on the bench for Game 4 of the NLDS against the Braves on Monday. Bader is a strong defensive option but hit just .205/.314/.366 on the season. The Cardinals will prioritize offense after scoring a combined one run over their last two games. Dexter Fowler slides to center field, with Tommy Edman moving out to right.
Bader is out of the lineup for Game 3 of the NLDS against the Braves on Sunday, Rob Rains of StLSportsPage.com reports. Bader went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base in the series opener, but he went hitless with three strikeouts in Game 2. Dexter Fowler will start in center field Sunday while Tommy Edman moves out to right field.
Bader went 1-for-2 with a solo home run, a walk and two runs overall in a loss to the Cubs on Saturday. Bader's fifth-inning solo blast put the Cardinals on the scoreboard for the first time on the night. The 25-year-old has reached safely in four of his last five games, leaving the yard twice over that stretch. However, even with that recent surge, Bader is still hitting just .200 in September heading into the last day of the regular season.