ST. LOUIS -- Intrigued by Michael Wacha's stirring finish to his first big league season, the Cardinals have decided that he, not Shelby Miller, will line up to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Manager Mike Matheny announced the decision before Friday's 7-1 loss to the Pirates in Game 2, noting that Wacha's strong September was the biggest factor. A lesser factor was Miller's subpar numbers against the Bucs this season.
Miller went 0-4 and allowed 13 earned runs in 22 innings against Pittsburgh. He allowed six homers, walked nine and struck out 21. Seven of those runs were scored in 10 1/3 innings at PNC Park.
"It wasn't an easy decision, because we really like what Shelby has done -- 15 wins this season, and [he has] really done a nice job with every opportunity we've given him," Matheny said. "He's adapted and is a guy who can make the changes that are necessary for him to have success against a team that's starting to get on him."
Miller will be available to pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the series -- he allowed a solo home run to Starling Marte to go with a strikeout of Justin Morneau during the eighth inning of Game 2 -- and the Cards haven't ruled out giving the rookie right-hander a start if they advance deeper into the postseason.
As for Wacha, a start on Monday will be just the latest new experience in a season of firsts for the rookie. A first-round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Wacha, 22, is less than five months removed from making his Major League debut.
"It's a great opportunity," Wacha said. "I wish we could have won today, and maybe I wouldn't have had to pitch. But I just look forward to the opportunity of getting out there and pitching in Pittsburgh."
Wacha made two appearances -- one as a starter, one out of the bullpen -- against the Pirates this season and shut Pittsburgh out on two hits and two walks in nine combined innings. After being inserted back into the rotation for the season's final month, Wacha boasted a 1.72 ERA in five September starts.
This will be just career road start No. 4 for Wacha and his first at PNC Park, where the crowd is expected to be raucous. The game is also guaranteed to be an elimination one for either the Pirates or the Cardinals.
"You can't get too caught up in the moment," Wacha said. "That's whenever I get in trouble -- getting too caught up in the moment, leaving pitches up, letting the emotions get the best of me. If I can slow the game down, control the counts, I think it will work in my favor."
In his last outing -- a Sept. 24 start against the Nationals -- Wacha carried a no-hitter through 8 2/3 innings. It was broken up by an infield single.
"He just doesn't look like a kid that is fresh out of college," Matheny said of Wacha. "The stuff is there, but there is just a composure, there's a maturity, a pitching maturity. The situation doesn't really get much bigger than it was his last start, and you watched him be able to hold that and continue all the way through his last pitch. It was something that was impressive for us to watch and continue to watch him grow. There's not a whole lot that's there that you wouldn't like."
Wacha threw a bullpen session at Busch Stadium on Friday morning in preparation for Monday's start.
Matheny finds spot to give young relievers work
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Matheny could have gone any number of directions when he deployed his bullpen in the final two innings of Thursday's 9-1 victory over the Pirates in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. As it was, he opted to prioritize finding work for his two youngest relievers.
In having Carlos Martinez pitch the eighth, Matheny was able to give the 22-year-old rookie his first taste of postseason competition. Martinez rose to the occasion, retiring the side in order and capping his seven-pitch inning with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Jordy Mercer. He also showed off his athleticism in making a highlight defensive play.
Rosenthal, also a 22-year-old rookie, followed with a scoreless ninth. Matheny felt some urgency to pitch Rosenthal since he had not appeared in a game in five days.
"We wanted to make sure we finished that game off," Matheny said. "We're taking nothing for granted. We watched this team come back last time they were in here, and [they] gave us a scare after a big lead. That's not time to start messing around too much. But also try to take advantage of the times that you have to get something accomplished. Getting Carlos on the mound yesterday was something we wanted to accomplish. With Trevor, he needed to pitch."
Adam Wainwright's ability to cover the first seven innings allowed the rest of an already rested bullpen to get an extra day off. Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist have not pitched since Sunday. Seth Maness, John Axford and Edward Mujica last pitched on Saturday.
Matheny appreciative of Dusty's generosity
ST. LOUIS -- Shortly after learning that the Reds had dismissed manager Dusty Baker after six seasons, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke of his appreciation for the interest Baker showed in him as he was trying to figure out his post-playing career path.
Matheny said that Baker reached out to him not long after concussions ended his career in 2006. Baker had managed against Matheny the catcher while leading the Giants (1993-2002) and Cubs ('03-06).
"You see a lot about somebody when they have nothing to gain," Matheny said. "He was just reaching out to me as a former player to encourage me and help me figure out what my next step was going to be. He made a huge impression on me."
Those conversations stopped after Matheny accepted the Cards' managerial offer, but mutual respect remained between the two National League Central skippers. In two years managing against Baker's Reds, Matheny's club posted a 19-15 record.
"I've got nothing but respect for Dusty on a professional level, and personal, too," Matheny said. "To me, his teams have always competed hard, and he's always there for his club. He's had a lot of success as a manager, and I know a lot of his players think highly of him."
• The Cardinals are scheduled to fly to Pittsburgh after Friday's game and will hold a workout at PNC Park at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday. The Pirates are scheduled to work out at 1 p.m.
• Major League Baseball announced start times for the rest of the Division Series games. Game 4 between the Cards and Bucs will start at 2 p.m. CT on Monday (on TBS) at PNC Park. First pitch will be pushed back 30 minutes if the series between the Braves and Dodgers is already over.
If a Game 5 is necessary, it will be played at Busch Stadium on Wednesday at 4 p.m. (on TBS). That start time will be pushed back to 7 p.m. if the other NLDS is completed.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.