ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals' 25-man National League Division Series roster isn't officially due until Friday morning, manager Mike Matheny eliminated ongoing speculation by announcing the club's roster plans following the team's Thursday afternoon workout.
The Cardinals will use an 11-man pitching staff and 14 position players, including Yadier Molina, in their best-of-five series against the Cubs that starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS. The club is confident enough in Molina's health that it will carry just one backup backstop. That will be Tony Cruz.
ST. LOUIS -- There likely will be a level of discomfort for Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who has torn ligaments in his left thumb, but he is determined to play against the Cubs and is on the 25-man roster for the National League Division Series that begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
Molina will wear devices to protect the thumb -- one for hitting and another for catching -- in order to avoid further injury, but he passed all the tests this week and is ready to go for the first time since sustaining the injury on Sept. 20.
Lester's ability to hold runners may prove critical
By Adam Berry
ST. LOUIS -- Jon Lester's last start of 2014 and his first start of 2015 exposed a potentially critical hole in the veteran left-hander's game and prompted a question that will inevitably follow him throughout the playoffs.
ST. LOUIS -- As the Cardinals emerged from the shock that enveloped them in the wake of Oscar Taveras' death last October, they looked to one man to lead them forward. That man had spent the prior week peppered with criticism for his postseason decisions -- none more scrutinized than his use of Michael Wacha -- was all of a sudden needed for what he did best:
ST. LOUIS -- Before getting started with the seemingly important stuff, there's one detail you should know about this National League Division Series that begins tonight (6:30 p.m. ET, TBS).
Should the Cubs ever find themselves with a five-run lead, the Cardinals are advised to hold runners on first base, because the Cubs will look to steal bases and push the action to extend the lead to six runs.
They've faced each other 2,363 times lo these many years. They made the Brock trade. They played the "Sandberg Game." They provided the McGwire and Sosa chase. They've stoked about as much red vs. blue passion as an Election Day.
Yadier Molina and his son drop the first puck of St. Louis Blues season
By Mike Bertha |
The postseason is just getting started in St. Louis and hockey's already poking its nose into the picture. With the Cardinals set to host the Cubs for Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS, the NHL's St. Louis Blues opened up their regular season on Thursday night.
Stomping Grounds: Friends always pushed each other in college
By Carrie Muskat and Jenifer Langosch
ST. LOUIS -- When Jake Arrieta and Matt Carpenter were teammates at TCU, they created their own decathlon, including events such as ping pong, foosball and basketball. Since the Cubs acquired Arrieta in July 2013, the two have found themselves going head to head in the National League Central.
Carpenter said he could cheer for Arrieta when he was with the Orioles, but since the right-hander joined the Cubs, it's been tough.
ST. LOUIS -- They've played more than 2,300 times, but the Cubs and Cardinals have never played any games that mean more than the ones they're going to play over the next week. Yet along the way the Cubs and Cardinals have built one of baseball's greatest rivalries, with passion on the field and in the stands whether playing for first place or bragging rights alone.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
NLDS: Cubs-Cardinals position by position
By AJ Cassavell
The Cardinals and Cubs -- who will square off in the National League Division Series beginning Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS -- combined to win 197 games this season. It's the most combined wins by Division Series opponents since the Cards and Dodgers won 198 in 2004.
St. Louis and Chicago faced each other 19 times during the season, with the Cardinals winning 11 of those matchups. Those three extra wins proved to be the difference between the two clubs in the NL Central, and the Cardinals will open the NLDS at home with a fully rested pitching staff, as a result. The Cubs, meanwhile, beat the Pirates, 4-0, in the NL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Wednesday, meaning one of the greatest rivalries in sports will take center stage over the next week.
ST. LOUIS -- His team in need of starting pitching depth, general manager John Mozeliak sifted through the available options last summer with an eye on not only what an acquisition could do in the immediate but also what it would mean for October.
It was with postseason aspirations in mind that Mozeliak swung a deal with the Red Sox for John Lackey, parting with young pitching talent Joe Kelly and an underachieving Allen Craig to land a pitcher who had been a six-time postseason participant. Lackey added a seventh playoff run to his resume a year ago and will be the Cardinals' starter in Game 1 of National League Division Series at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday as the Cardinals begin another championship quest.
ST. LOUIS -- One of baseball's most storied rivalries is about to get its first postseason edition.
With a 4-0 victory over the Pirates in Wednesday's National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, the Cubs earned a trip to St. Louis to meet the Cardinals in the NL Division Series, beginning Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS. Two teams that first squared off in 1882 and have played another 2,363 games against one another since have never faced off in the postseason.
Ex-teammates will square off in Friday's NLDS opener
By Mark Sheldon and Jordan Bastian
MLB.com |@MLBastian |
ST. LOUIS -- The friendship of Cardinals starter John Lackey and Cubs starter Jon Lester runs deep and is sure to continue well beyond Friday night. This is despite the fact that both of them have divergent goals when they meet in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium, live on TBS at 5:30 p.m. CT.
Lackey and Lester became best friends when both pitched in the same rotation with the Red Sox. They won a World Series together for Boston in 2013 and remained close since they headed to separate teams.
You might not have noticed it over the past few years, but John Lackey has been adjusting.
Since 2011, Lackey has thrown more first-pitch strikes each year. With the Red Sox that season, Lackey threw his first pitch for a strike 61 percent of the time, slightly higher than the MLB average of 59.4 percent. In the three seasons since -- he missed 2012 with an elbow injury -- Lackey's first-pitch strike percentage has jumped from 61 to 64.3 to 67.8 to 70.8, far higher than the mere 1.5 percent jump baseball as a whole has made in that time.
ST. LOUIS -- With the Cardinals' 25-man National League Division Series roster not due until Friday morning, both manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak declined to reveal some of the organization's roster decisions on Wednesday.
"I know it's a hot topic, and I get it," Matheny said before his team had a two-hour workout at Busch Stadium. "It's been something since that day [we clinched] in Pittsburgh where I really have tried not to distract ourselves from getting too far ahead. But since then, it's been on our minds nonstop, and I think anybody who follows this team closely realizes there are a lot of decisions that need to be made there. We've spent a lot of hours trying to figure out what's going to be best for this club."
ST. LOUIS -- Greg Garcia arrived on the University of Hawaii campus by way of Southern California, where, as a junior, he received a mailing from a Hawaii baseball program that he didn't even know existed. Curiosity led him to do an Internet search, at which time he discovered that not only was there a program, but a thriving one. The team had just enjoyed a 45-win season in 2006 that featured an NCAA Regional invite and a swell of local support.
Kolten Wong knew all of that already, having long followed the team that played just an island hop away from his home on Hawaii's Big Island. And he was known, too.
Back in the postseason for a fifth straight year, the 100-win Cardinals return to October with an eye on capturing the 12th World Series championship in franchise history. The Cardinals will open the National League Division Series in St. Louis on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (TBS) against either the Pirates or Cubs. With that best-of-five series on tap, here is a look at five reasons why the Cardinals can win the World Series for the third time in 10 years:
ST. LOUIS -- As a reward for good behavior and good grades, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter surprised a student at St. Louis' Lift for Life Academy with tickets to Game 1 of the Cardinals' National League Division Series. The Cardinals open postseason play at Busch Stadium on Friday against the Pirates or Cubs at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
Posing as the school's principal, Carpenter called the student to his office, then congratulated him on being nominated by his teachers to receive the postseason tickets. Carpenter also presented the student with a personalized jersey and postseason hat.
ST. LOUIS -- Before Robin Ventura became a two-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glove Award winner and manager of the White Sox, he was an occasional babysitter for Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday.
Ventura, who acknowledged that he'll have a rooting interest as Holliday's Cardinals open the postseason with a National League Division Series matchup against the Pirates or Cubs on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (TBS), grew close to the Holliday family during his time playing under head coach Tom Holliday, Matt's father, at Oklahoma State University from 1985-88.
Q. Mike, just your thoughts on facing the Cubs team. You've seen a lot through the season and through the years. This is obviously on a different stage.
MIKE MATHENY: Different stage, same game, and it's a team that we've seen recently, we've seen all year, we've seen go through a lot of change, and just a very good club, just like the team they beat last night. So not surprised that they're here, and now, you know, all the anticipation we finally get to go out and play, and I know that probably look a lot like what it looked all season long. It was a tough fight every time we got a chance to play.
Q. Is there anything you can share about your roster decisions today?
Garcia, who has emerged a key member of the Cardinals' rotation after starting just 16 games from 2013-14, was announced on Monday as one of 12 finalists for Best Bounceback Player. Martinez, an All-Star in his first season as a full-time starter, is up for Best Breakout Player; while Molina, winner of seven straight Gold Glove Awards, is among the nominees for the Best Defensive Player.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Division Series start times set through Sunday
Major League Baseball on Monday announced the start times for Division Series games through Sunday. FS1 and MLB Network will exclusively televise all American League Division Series games, while TBS will exclusively telecast all National League Division Series games. All postseason games will be telecast in Canada by Sportsnet.
In advance of the Cardinals' fifth postseason trip in as many years, general manager John Mozeliak sat down with MLB.com for a wide-ranging question-and-answer session. Here are some of his thoughts on how the season, notable individual performers and what's ahead as the organization seeks its 12th World Series championship:
MLB.com: If you had known before the season started that you would lose your ace, three-hole hitter, cleanup hitter, setup man and several other contributors, what would your expectations have been?
Cardinals righty delivers third solid relief outing
By Nick Suss
ATLANTA -- Mike Matheny was never nervous about Adam Wainwright's curveball.
"I saw him from his very first bullpen; the first time he threw his curveball he was sharp," the Cardinals manager said after a 6-0 loss to the Braves in Game 1 of a doubleheader Sunday afternoon. "That's something that he falls out of bed throwing well."
By Mark Bowman and Nick Suss
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- Finishing off the regular season on a high note, the Braves completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals with a 2-0 victory in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday at Turner Field. Rookie starter Matt Wisler turned in a gem for the Braves, finishing one out shy of his first career complete game and shutout.
While the Braves' season is over, the Cardinals move on to the National League Division Series and will host the winner of Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser between the Pirates and Cubs in Pittsburgh. Game 1 of the NLDS will be played Friday at Busch Stadium.