ST. LOUIS -- For all this talk about familiarity between the Cardinals and the Pirates, St. Louis will actually be facing an unknown in Game 2 on Friday (noon CT on MLB Network).
Despite being on the Bucs' roster for the final four series (14 games) between the two National League Central division foes, rookie Gerrit Cole never drew a starting assignment against the Cards. In fact, he was the only pitcher in the Pirates' rotation who the Cardinals did not face during a five-game series in Pittsburgh at the end of July.
Cole did, however, have plenty of opportunity to watch.
"Facing [Matt] Carpenter, [Carlos] Beltran, [Yadier] Molina, [Matt] Holliday, [David] Freese, [Jon] Jay ... they're just great hitters," Cole said. "So whether you've seen them a bunch of times or not, you know what they're capable of doing. You know in a playoff atmosphere, anything can happen. I don't think that it's an advantage that I haven't seen them, and I don't think they view it as one either. It's playoff baseball. Anything goes."
Cole finished the season strong, going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five September starts to net NL Rookie of the Month honors. After making his Major League debut on June 11, Cole went 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA in his 19 starts. On the road, he was 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA.
The Cards struggled against unfamiliar pitchers throughout the season, but they are hopeful that such a trend does not carry over in October.
"Obviously, facing somebody that's never been seen can have its challenges," Carpenter said. "But sometimes facing the same guys over and over again can have the same challenge. It can be hit or miss whether it works out in your favor."
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.