Well, Garcia is injured. That much is true. And it's also true that Lance Lynn was last seen coming out of the St. Louis bullpen.
The reality is that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wasn't forced by circumstances to pick a name out of the bullpen hat, cross his fingers and hope for the best when he was looking for someone to give the ball to against the Giants at AT&T Park on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. Instead, he's in the unique position of being able to turn to a 25-year-old who was 17-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 29 starts during the regular season. A guy who made the All-Star team as a starter, for crying out loud.
Tale of the Tape: Game 1
|2012 regular season|
|Overall: 29 GS, 18-7, 3.78 ERA, 64 BB, 180 K||Overall: 32 GS, 16-11, 3.37 ERA, 49 BB, 191 K|
|Key stat: After making three relief appearances this postseason, Lynn will make his first career playoff start in Game 1.||Key stat: Bumgarner was 10-3 with a 2.38 ERA at home in the regular season.|
|At AT&T Park|
| 2012: 15 GS, 10-3, 2.38 ERA
Career: 41 GS, 19-12, 3.08 ERA
|Against this opponent|
|2012: 1 GS, 0-1, 6.00 ERA
Career: 2 GS, 0-2, 7.15 ERA
|2012: 2 GS, 0-2, 4.73 ERA
Career: 4 GS, 2-2, 3.62 ERA
|Loves to face: Marco Scutaro, 1-for-6
Hates to face: Angel Pagan, 2-for-4, 1 BB
|Loves to face: Allen Craig, 3-for-13, 2 K
Hates to face: Jon Jay, 4-for-6, 2 2B
|Why he'll win: In the 2011 NLCS, Lynn went 1-0 and allowed zero runs over 5 1/3 innings.||Why he'll win: Bumgarner is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA over four postseason starts.|
|Pitcher beware: Lynn has a 7.36 over 3 2/3 innings in this postseason.||Pitcher beware: Bumgarner lasted only 4 1/3 innings in his Game 2 start of the NLDS, allowing four runs on seven hits in a 9-0 loss to the Reds.|
|Bottom line: Lynn has a chance for redemption after allowing a walkoff home run to Jayson Werth in Game 4 of the NLDS.||Bottom line: Bumgarner can add to this impressive postseason resume with his first career NLCS win.|
The Cardinals don't see him as an emergency starter. Lynn certainly doesn't view himself that way.
"Starting is something I've done my whole life," Lynn said. "So I feel like that's going to be easier than last year [when I was used as a reliever]. Last year, I came into games when I hadn't pitched in two months coming off an injury [strained oblique], so I was pretty excited. I was just hoping to have some success.
"This year, I've started games, relieved games, done it all over the last two years. So I'm sure this won't be any different than any other time. I've been able to do both and be successful at both, so I'm just looking forward to the opportunity. I made quite a few postseason appearances out of the bullpen, and deeper in ballgames with a lot of runners on base. I'll just try to control myself, enjoy the moment and just go out and pitch. This will be fun. Just go out there and pitch until they come take me out."
Lynn seemed to enjoy himself during his media availability before Saturday's workout at AT&T Park. Asked how much momentum he thought the Cardinals would have after their incredible clinching comeback against the Nationals on Friday night, he grinned.
"I hope a lot," he replied.
Asked which Giants hitters he was particularly concerned about, he mentioned Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt. And laughed again.
And what about his mental approach going into the game?
"My guess is I can tell you after the game," he said, laughing again.
The Cardinals, of course, are coming off an emotional win followed by a red-eye flight. They didn't get to their San Francisco hotel until about 6:30 a.m. PT on Saturday morning. They could still be exhausted both mentally and physically when Game 1 rolls around, but Lynn is confident that the team will be ready.
"It shouldn't be a big deal," he said. "If we played [Saturday], that wouldn't be fun. But it's part of the game. We've done it all year. We've had late arrivals with playing that same day. So with a day off, playing [Sunday] shouldn't be a big deal at all."
Just like Lynn starting Game 1 isn't as big a deal as people who haven't been watching the Cardinals closely might assume it is.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.