ST. LOUIS -- Prepared to start Adam Wainwright on Wednesday, the Cardinals, knowing that they have clinched the second Wild Card spot in the National League, will instead send rookie Shelby Miller to the mound to face the Reds for his first Major League start.
The Giants' 4-3 win over the Dodgers late Tuesday provided the Cardinals with the flexibility to make the swap. With a playoff spot sealed, St. Louis has decided to hold back Wainwright, presumably so he can pitch Game 1 of the National League Division Series, should the Redbirds move past the Braves in Friday's Wild Card Game.
Wainwright would also be available for that game Friday, if the Cardinals want to put him on the Wild Card Game roster as protection in case anything happens to Kyle Lohse.
Wainwright will lose out on the chance to pitch 200 regular-season innings by having his start skipped on Wednesday. He's thrown 198 2/3 this year, his first one back since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
As for Miller, Wednesday's start will be his first since Aug. 31, when he made his final Triple-A start of the season. He was then called to St. Louis as one of the organization's September callups and has since been pitching out of the 'pen.
Miller, who entered 2012 ranked by MLB.com as the organization's top prospect, has allowed two earned runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings out of the Cardinals' bullpen.
Miller's last multi-inning appearance came on Sept. 10, meaning that St. Louis will have to line up several pitchers behind him to cover all nine innings of the season's final game.