ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' rookie pitchers have drawn much of the spotlight this season, earning acclaim for their poise and effectiveness on the mound in big situations. But they're always quick to divert any praise to the All-Star catcher working behind the plate.
"It's unbelievable working with [Yadier Molina]," said rookie right-hander Michael Wacha, fresh off his first postseason start and his second near no-hitter in as many games.
"Just the amount of trust that you have in that guy. Him knowing all the hitters. He does so much work watching film, watching these guys, and knows exactly how to pitch them. I just try and listen to him, really just attack the zone and make quality pitches to him, and it worked out pretty well."
Molina has guided a St. Louis pitching staff that featured 10 rookies in 2013 and finished with the fifth-best regular-season ERA in the Majors at 3.42. The first-year pitchers accounted for more than 30 percent of the Cards' 97 wins.
"You have an extra set of eyes back there and somebody with a sense, an uncanny sense, that he has to be able to pick [it] up if somebody is starting to head in a different direction," manager Mike Matheny said. "Yadi has that, and he has the guts to follow his instincts, so he is helping our young pitchers without question. … He's just special with what he's able to do back there."
Molina's presence was on display on Monday in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, when he handled a trio of rookie hurlers, all age 23 or younger, as they limited the Pirates to one run, one hit and three walks.
"He controls our staff," Wacha said. "It shows [in] how much these young guys just have the composure coming out there. And [Carlos Martinez] coming in a tough spot after me and then [Trevor Rosenthal] coming in there and closing the door down last night. It's been pretty unbelievable."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.