ST. LOUIS – It’s the final off-day for the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2022 regular season comes to an end. Six games against the Pittsburgh Pirates remain before the Cardinals take battle as the National League Central division champions.
After Wednesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cardinals will finish the regular season locked in the No. 3 postseason spot. That guarantees St. Louis will compete in the first-ever National League Wild Card series coming off a regular 162-game season.
Depending on their fate, the Cardinals could play up to 22 postseason games over four rounds. It’s a situation that’s likely to test the depth, durability and productivity of the starting rotation.
Cardinals manager Oli Marmol has not yet committed to any rotation plans come postseason, but he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Who we play does matter” when it comes to decision-making. The Cardinals have a chance to either host their most-recent opponent in the Brewers, the San Diego Padres or the Philadelphia Phillies.
Since the start of August, the Cardinals have consistently turned to six pitchers in the rotation. Among that core includes: Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Jose Quintana, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson.
Here is how each starter has fared since the Aug. 2 trade deadline:
This is how each one has fared in matchups against the Brewers, Phillies and Padres this season. Such splits could be valuable in Marmol deciding who to start in a three-game series. At that point, if the Cardinals advance past the Wild Card round, those who start could be in the postseason rotation for good to help the team maintain structure and momentum.
|AGAINST PADRES||Wins/Losses||ERA||WHIP||Strikeouts||Innings Pitched|
|AGAINST PHLLIES||Wins/Losses||ERA||WHIP||Strikeouts||Innings Pitched|
|AGAINST BREWERS||Wins/Losses||ERA||WHIP||Strikeouts||Innings Pitched|
It’s unclear what direction Marmol might go, but how he restructured the rotation ahead of a brief two-game series in Milwaukee is noteworthy. He rolled with Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana to pitch in games where the Cardinals could clinch the National League Central Division. Mikolas delivered on extra rest and Quintana was moved up in the order, likely indicators that those two could cover big innings to start postseason games.
The Cardinals will turn to Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery and Adam Wainwright in the final home series against Pittsburgh from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. All three could potentially start a Game 1 on normal or extended rest, assuming this weekend’s starts mark their last time through the regular season rotation.
St. Louis might value a postseason routine with at least one lefty as a constant rotation member, so possibly either one or both of Quintana or Montgomery. Some postseason hopefuls, including the Brewers, Padres and Mets rank in the bottom half of MLB when it comes to batting average against left-handed pitchers this year.
Experience could also play a huge factor. Wainwright has 29 career games and 16 career postseason starts, leading both departments by a considerable margin among his rotation mates. No one else in the Cardinals’ regular rotation down the stretch has more than four postseason starts. Jordan Montgomery only has one postseason outing under his belt.
It’s very possible Marmol and the Cardinals might not solidify the postseason rotation until just before postseason starts next week. Regardless, the abundance of options is a good problem for the Cardinals to have as they embark on their fourth Red October in four years.