[Related: Updated St. Louis Cardinals depth chart]
The move marks the third Opening Day regular to be optioned to the minors this season — both Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz have been sent down in 2017 — and also makes this the second straight season in which St. Louis has optioned a recently extended player to the minors. In 2016, it was second baseman Kolten Wong that was sent down after struggling in the wake of signing a five-year, $25.5MM extension. Piscotty, 26, inked a six-year, $33.5MM pact prior to the 2017 season but has struggled to live up to the expectations that accompanied that deal thus far.
Piscotty batted .282/.348/.467 with 29 homers through his first 216 Major League games (905 plate appearances), prompting the Cards to make that show of faith just as the 2017 campaign got underway. However, he’s yet to find a groove at the plate this year and currently has just a .232/.340/.362 slash through 291 plate appearances. Piscotty has seen his walk rate spike to 12.7 percent this season, but his power has largely evaporated; he’s hit just six homers in 2017 and has an isolated power mark (.130) that is 54 points lower than his 2016 level (.184). He’s also missed time due to a hamstring strain and a groin strain through the season’s first four-plus months.
With Piscotty out of the picture for the time being, the Cards seem set to go with an outfield mix featuring Tommy Pham, Fowler and Grichuk. Jose Martinez, too, should factor prominently into the mix on the heels of his strong play in recent weeks. Some have even argued for Martinez to remain in the lineup on a regular basis, including Bernie Miklasz of ESPN 101, who made a lengthy pitch for the Cardinals to keep Martinez in the heart of the order earlier today.