ST. LOUIS — Cardinals manager Mike Matheny typically does not like to reveal any more of his plans than he must. Keeping with his close-to-the-vest ways, he did not say who would be starting Game 3.
But he might have dropped a pretty nice hint when he said that Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will be available to work out of the bullpen Thursday. The implication: Joe Kelly will not be available. If Kelly isn’t available for Game 1 and Lance Lynn is starting Game 2, that leaves Kelly to get the ball at PNC Park Sunday.
More telling than what Matheny said or didn’t say is what Kelly has done in Pittsburgh. In his first start there this season, he ended the Cardinals’ seven-game losing streak by throwing six shutout innings. In his second time out, he allowed one run in six innings and ended a three-game slide.
If Kelly indeed goes in Game 3, that would leave Miller or Wacha for Monday’s Game 4. Miller’s edge in experience might not make up for his troubles in Pittsburgh. He struggled in both of his starts at PNC, lasting a total of 10 1/3 innings and giving up seven runs. Wacha, who has made only 15 outings, has not pitched at PNC Park.
While Matheny didn’t disclose his plans for the rotation past Game 2, he did say who would be among his 12 pitchers and who would be on the bench for the NL Division Series. Struggling closer Edward Mujica made the cut, though don’t look for him in the ninth inning. His role, Matheny said, is “right-handed pitcher.”
Six rookies will be among the 12-man pitching staff: Miller, Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez.
Rookies Kolten Wong and Adron Chambers also made the first-round roster, at the expense of catcher Rob Johnson and backup first baseman Brock Peterson. Along with Matt Adams and Pete Kozma, the Cardinals will count 10 rookies on the roster.
After initially saying he would announce his Game 2 starter on Thursday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle relented and laid out his rotation for the series. After A.J. Burnett in Game 1, rookie Gerrit Cole will go in Game 2, with Cardinals nemesis Francisco Liriano scheduled for Game 3 and right-hander Charlie Morton for the potential Game 4. If the series goes the distance, the Game 1 starters would be able to work Game 5 next Wednesday on an extra day’s rest. Adams no rookie when it comes to distractions
Hailing from the Pittsburgh side of Pennsylvania, Adams grew up a Pirates fan until 1992. When Barry Bonds left, he switched allegiances to whatever team that Ken Griffey Jr. was playing on.
Adams still counts enough Pirates fans as friends and family that he was not surprised to see the atmosphere at PNC Park Tuesday night.
“I could have told you before the game that it was going to be crazy,” Adams said. “All my buddies that I went to college with went to the game. They texted me about the crowd and how loud it was.”
Most of his people, he said, are rooting for him to do well but for the Pirates to win. One college buddy, in fact, let Adams know where his allegiance flies with a photo he sent after the Pirates’ 6-2 win over the Reds.
“One friend was dressed up as a Pirate holding a flag with the Cardinals’ symbol with a line through it,” he said.
That friend won’t be getting any tickets from Adams, who says he’s taking care of his mom and his dad.
“For tickets, that’s it,” Adams said. “It can be a distraction this time of year and I want to minimize that as much as possible.” You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.