ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals have not taken their eyes off the possibility of securing home-field advantage throughout the National League Championship Series, they also plan to let their everyday players dictate some lineup decisions over the final regular-season weekend.
Both Carlos Beltran and David Freese were out of the lineup on Saturday, a day after the Cardinals clinched the NL Central title. Beltran has been dealing with a sore right wrist for some time, and the issue prompted his early removal from Friday night's game. General manager John Mozeliak said that had Beltran been needed to play, he would have been on the field.
As for Freese, the Cardinals wanted to give him a day of rest after starts in 21 straight games.
"I think we're all on the same page," manager Mike Matheny said. "We just want to get ready to play [in Game 1 of the NL Division Series] on Thursday. Each guy is going to have his own program and what that looks like."
Matheny would not reveal what lineup plans he had for Sunday's series final against the Cubs.
One residual benefit of resting starting position players is that it allows some of the bench players to take at-bats this weekend. Pete Kozma, Daniel Descalso and Adron Chambers were all in Saturday's lineup. It was Chambers' first start of the season.
"The first priority is getting our everyday guys ready with what they need for these next two days in order to have them prepared for Thursday," Matheny said. "Once we find out what that is, then we're going to start plugging in the other guys that one, we want to see, or two, we want to get ready."
The Cardinals entered the final weekend of the regular season assured of starting the NLDS at home, but they're still battling the Braves for home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. St. Louis and Atlanta entered Saturday with identical 95-65 records, but the Cardinals would have to finish with more wins (since the Braves own the head-to-head tiebreaker) to draw the winner of the Pirates-Reds Wild Card Game in the NLDS. The other team would face the Dodgers.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.