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.
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 -- 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 Friday 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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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 -- 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.
ATLANTA -- After a weekend of resting their regulars and scripting controlled appearances for others, the Cardinals closed the 162-game portion of the season Sunday and turned their attention to accomplishing a new set of goals.
The Cardinals were officially crowned as kings of what has been baseball's toughest division this season with an 11-1 win over the Pirates on Wednesday. A 2-0 loss to the Braves on Sunday completed an Atlanta sweep, but this was a series much more about preparation than it was immediate results. After spending six months holding off the Cubs and Pirates in the National League Central, the Cards will now face one of the two division foes in Game 1 of the NL Division Series at Busch Stadium on Friday on TBS.
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.
ST. LOUIS -- A postseason participant for the fifth straight season, the Cardinals have already accomplished something never before done in franchise history. But this is a club conditioned not just to play into October but also deep into it.
The Cardinals, who finished the season with the Majors' best record, are seeking to become the first team since the Braves (1995-99) to advance to the League Championship Series in five straight years. The club is also eyeing a third trip to the World Series in a five-year span. They have thus far advanced to the Fall Classic once under manager Mike Matheny.
The Cardinals outfielder, who suffered a concussion in an outfield collision with Peter Bourjos on Monday, passed every necessary test to return to the field, but said he needed to wait for his players' union paperwork to clear before he could return. Everything was in order Sunday, and as a result, Piscotty returned to the lineup, batting second and playing right field in a 6-0 loss in Game 1 of a doubleheader with the Braves.
Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Before they were postseason bound: Cardinals
Here is everything you need to know about the Cardinals, who are heading to the postseason for the fifth straight season.
Lance Lynn, RHP
Born: Indianapolis, Ind.
HS: Brownsburg (Ind.) High School
College: University of Mississippi
Minors: Batavia (A-), Quad Cities (A), Palm Beach (A+), Springfield (AA), Memphis (AAA)
• He played on the Brownsburg Little League team that appeared in the 1999 Little League World Series, competing against future Major Leagues Colby and Cory Rasmus, as well as Stephen Fife in the tournament.
• He was teammates with future Major Leaguer Drew Storen at Brownsburg. Lynn was named the state of Indiana's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005.
• Lynn set strikeout records at Ole Miss, both in the single-season (146) and career (332) categories. He was teammates with Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart.
By Mark Bowman and Nick Suss
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- Shelby Miller ended a maddening four-month winless streak and frustrated his former Cardinals teammates over the eight scoreless innings he completed while helping the Braves claim a 6-0 win in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader at Turner Field.
Miller scattered three hits and needed just 110 pitches to complete his eight innings, which were supported by Adonis Garcia's first multihomer game. This marked the third time the Braves right-hander received at least six runs of suppor and first since he had last earned a win on May 17.