Getting a rare day off seems to have helped Andrew McCutchen break out of one of the worst slumps of his career.

Over the first 24 games of the season, McCutchen batted .216. That funk included an 0-for-17 stretch that was the longest he'd gone without a hit.

McCutchen didn't play April 28 in St. Louis. In eight games since, not including Thursday, he's hit .438.

Coincidence?

“It might have (helped),” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You try to be smart with the days off. But do I think I have some sort of magic wand? If that was the case, I'd take a day off and come back smarter.”

Pitchers might have made small adjustments against McCutchen, but in general, they are going at him the same as last year. McCutchen said it was a matter of getting his timing back.

“My confidence is always through the roof, regardless of the outcome,” McCutchen said. “I know what I'm capable of doing. Once I get locked in, there'll be no stopping me.”

McCutchen usually does not spend a lot of time reviewing video of his at-bats, poring over minutia, and he's sticking with that approach.

“Be ready to hit, that's it,” McCutchen said. “This game can be very difficult if you think about numbers or all that stuff from every other place. If you simplify this game as much as you can, that's when things get easier for you.”

McCutchen's struggles at the plate did not shackle the offense.

“It just goes to show we've got other guys on the team who are capable of winning us ballgames,” Hurdle said. “... It's probably been a good breather for him to take. Not that anybody doesn't like to be playing at the top of their game, but it seemed we needed him almost at the top of his game last year to get things done. He's been able to watch other guys come through, so that bag might not be as heavy to carry as it's been in the past.”

McCutchen's day off against the Cardinals was the first time he hadn't played since Aug. 31, 2012, ending a 55-game streak.

“We take a lot of pride in, if somebody is getting a day off, we play well enough to give them a full day off,” infielder John McDonald said. “It was great that McCutchen didn't have to play. He didn't have to pinch hit, he didn't have to go in to play defense. It's great he was able to just sit and relax. We're obviously a good ballclub when he's swinging the bat well, but it takes everybody.”