Cards to start Wainwright in World Series opener
Ace gets the call for Wednesday's Game 1 after not pitching since Oct. 14
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals had Adam Wainwright on standby, ready to pitch the elimination game if the National League Championship Series had extended a day longer. Now, they'll deploy him to kick off the World Series.
Manager Mike Matheny confirmed Sunday that Wainwright will take the ball for St. Louis in Game 1 of the World Series, which opens in Boston on Wednesday (6:30 p.m. CT airtime on FOX/ 7:07 p.m. CT first pitch). It will be Wainwright's fourth start of the postseason and first since a loss last Monday at Dodger Stadium.
"We love Waino on the mound," Matheny said on Sunday. "He's our guy that we build off of in more ways than just the production when he's on the mound. He's the guy that sets the tone for our club, especially our pitching staff. It's fitting that he'll be out there."
Wainwright opened and closed the NL Division Series with wins over the Pirates. The need to have him pitch in the final game of that series precluded him from pitching until Game 3 of the NLCS. In total, Wainwright has allowed four earned runs on 17 hits and one walk in 23 innings this postseason. He has struck out 20.
How the rotation lines up behind Wainwright has not officially been announced. With the break between the NLCS and World Series, the Cardinals have the flexibility to turn to any of their other starters in Game 2. Michael Wacha, who has allowed one run and eight hits in 21 postseason innings, would seem the likeliest candidate to immediately follow Wainwright.
General manager John Mozeliak confirmed that because of the limitations the Cardinals placed on Wacha over the summer, there are no concerns about having him make as many as two starts in the World Series.
The other rotation spots are expected to be filled again by Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. The Cardinals do not seem to have any plans to reinsert Shelby Miller into the rotation after placing him in the bullpen at the start of the month.
Cards likely to keep pitcher/position player breakdown
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have not finalized their roster breakdown for the World Series, but general manager John Mozeliak suggested that it will remain as it was for the first two rounds of the postseason. If that's the case, the Cards will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers.
There were questions about whether the Cardinals would need to keep an additional bench player as insurance in case Allen Craig does not have a clean return. That does not seem to be of much concern.
For one, the Cards could always replace Craig on the World Series roster if his foot does not respond as expected when he resumes game play. Also, the use of the designated hitter for the games in Boston limits the necessity of a deep bench.
Assuming Craig gets final clearance to be placed on the roster, the Cardinals will have to remove one position player who has been on the roster for the first two rounds of the postseason. The likeliest candidate to lose his spot seems to be second baseman Kolten Wong, who is hitless in five pinch-hit at-bats this month.
Miller gets much-needed work in during live BP
ST. LOUIS -- Though the live batting practice session staged at Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon was scheduled so that Allen Craig could work on the timing of his swing, there was also a residual benefit for the one doing the pitching.
Shelby Miller, along with reserve pitcher Tyler Lyons, simulated two game "innings" during the session. It was welcome work for Miller, who has thrown only once since making his final regular-season start on Sept. 25. The Cardinals have been keeping him available for a multiple-innings relief stint in the bullpen.
Having Miller stretch out his arm on Sunday, though, was not an indication of any changing usage. The Cardinals do not have plans to start him against the Red Sox in the World Series.
"The idea for Shelby and the conversation with Shelby from day one is that he could have an expanded role at any point," manager Mike Matheny said. "He needs to stay sharp. We had an opportunity for him to see some live hitters, and live hitters an opportunity to see him as well. Everybody got a benefit through that. We need Shelby to stay sharp in his mind, because at any point, we might need him to come and fill a number of different roles. He looked good today, and we were excited to see that."
Miller, a 15-game winner during the regular season, made his only appearance of the postseason on Oct. 4 during Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Pirates.
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.