Cardinals set up rotation for Games 1-3
Wacha, Wainwright would be available to face Dodgers twice if needed
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Matheny on Thursday announced the Cardinals' rotation plans for the first three games of the National League Championship Series, and as expected, Joe Kelly will start Game 1 on Friday (live on TBS at 7:30 p.m. CT), Michael Wacha will follow in Game 2 and then Adam Wainwright will toss Game 3 in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers will send Zack Greinke to the Busch Stadium mound Friday, and ace Clayton Kershaw will pitch Saturday in St. Louis.
Kelly's outing on Sunday -- two earned runs on five hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings of Game 3 of the NL Division Series -- earned him the start over teammate Lance Lynn, who was also available to start -- on five days' rest. Lynn was knocked around for five runs on seven hits and three walks against the Pirates on Friday.
Though Lynn tossed six shutout innings against Los Angeles in May, allowing just two hits and a walk with nine strikeouts, Kelly also fared well against the Dodgers in the regular season, limiting them to one run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings on Aug. 6. He allowed two runs while fanning six in three innings of relief on May 25.
"It's obviously super exciting," Kelly said. "Something that being a little kid, it's something you look forward to just getting to the playoffs. To be named a Game 1 starter, when he told me that, I got chills and goose bumps. To have the confidence that he has in me, my skipper, it's going to be really fun, and I really can't wait for it."
The Cards' two best pitchers in the NLDS, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright, would be on turn to start Games 6 and 7, respectively, on normal rest. Wacha, the No. 19 selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, carried a no-hitter for 7 1/3 innings on Monday, limiting the Pirates to one run on one hit and two walks in his first postseason appearance.
"I'm definitely looking forward to pitching in front of this home crowd. It's going to be a lot of fun," Wacha said. The 22-year-old rookie has tossed just 72 innings in the Majors and has never faced the Dodgers. "Just watching them on TV, it's a great ballclub and definitely a dangerous lineup. I'm just going to have to go out there and make pitches."
Lynn would seem the likely candidate to start Game 4, as the only starter available on at least regular rest. If he isn't used in relief in the first three games, Shelby Miller would also be available to start Tuesday in Los Angeles, if the Cardinals want to make a change. Since he was moved to the bullpen for the NLDS, the club has not ruled out starting him this October. Miller said Tuesday that if he were to transition back to a starting role, he would need at least one bullpen session to stretch back out to that workload.
"I think all of our players realize at this point it's whatever they can do to help the club," Matheny said. "And whoever it is, and whatever role they're going to be in, it's about team. Sometimes things aren't comfortable, and that's the nature of this business. They learn to adjust and adapt. They learn to compete regardless. If they do have that idea that it's about we and not me, it's something that they convince themselves that they can function and execute."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.