Cards have two southpaws vs. left-heavy Braves

Cards have two southpaws vs. left-heavy Braves

ATLANTA -- The Cardinals will face a left-handed-leaning Atlanta offense on Friday with only two left-handers -- Marc Rzepczynski and Sam Freeman -- among the 10 pitchers on the St. Louis roster.

The club gave some consideration to adding starter Jaime Garcia to the roster for use in a possible lefty-specialist situation. Ultimately, however, St. Louis made the decision to leave him off so that Garcia would be sufficiently rested for the National League Division Series, if the Cardinals advance there.

Garcia would likely pitch Game 2 of the NLDS. That game -- which would be played at home vs. Washington -- is scheduled for Monday.

"It was a conversation we had. It didn't last long," manager Mike Matheny said of Garcia's candidacy for this one-day, 25-man Wild Card roster. "It just didn't make a lot of sense to us at this time."

The Cardinals have not relied heavily on their left-handed relievers over the past two months because of the way they have constructed the back end of the bullpen. With a lead, righties Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte have covered the final three innings regardless of what matchups are presented.

"We believe in the back half of our bullpen," Matheny said. "When we get to the seventh inning, we've had some very good success letting these guys face left-handed and right-handed hitters, so it didn't really matter."

Of the first five hitters in the Braves' likely starting lineup on Friday, three hit from the left side and a fourth (Chipper Jones) is among the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history. Atlanta should also have several strong left-handed bats -- Brian McCann, Eric Hinske and Juan Francisco - available off the bench.