Early Wednesday morning the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. In doing so, the knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs and clinched the second Wild Card for the St. Louis Cardinals. What that meant is that tonight’s game because the first meaningless game that the Cardinals have played since the 2010 season finale.
Adam Wainwright was supposed to start this game, however, with it being a meaningless game he was held out. Instead, he is penciled in to start Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals.
In his place, the organization’s #1 prospect Shelby Miller got the nod and the opportunity to make an impact out of the rotation.
I can’t have been the only one that wasn’t expecting much out of Miller. I questioned how deep he could go into the ballgame considering he’s thrown a grand total of 7 2/3 innings over the last month.
But he excelled. In fact, he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. With two outs in the sixth he allowed his first hit of the night to Wilson Valdez.
Not only dominant, he was efficient. He threw 72 total pitches, 52 of those for strikes as he struck out 7 Reds. He walked just 2 batters.
Oh, and on top of the great pitching performance, he went 2-for-2 at the plate.
Unfortunately, the Memphis Redbirds lineup was having trouble scoring themselves. The Cardinals stayed scoreless until the bottom of the 8th when cleanup hitter Matt Carpenter singled to drive home tonight’s #2 hitter Shane Robinson.
His performance tonight begs the question: While it is just one start, how can you honestly ask him to take a bullpen spot next year?
Four of next season’s rotation spots are locked in. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, and Jaime Garcia will start if healthy. That leaves one more spot. Do you kick out Lance Lynn’s 18-win season?
It’s certainly a difficult decision to make. Personally, I want to keep him stretched out as a starting pitcher. I don’t want his endurance to change to a reliever’s endurance. Start him in Memphis or start him in St. Louis. Of course, I feel the same way about Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly too. I’d rather send them to start in Memphis then have them in the St. Louis bullpen, unless they are needed.
And I’m sure the Cardinals’ are glad to have it be a conversation they have to have. But we don’t have to make it for another five months. These things also have a way of working themselves out. Depth is a good thing to have and the Cardinals have it.
The Cardinals finish up the 2012 season with an 88-74 record, just 2 shy of what I said would be a success for Mike Matheny in his first season as the team’s manager. They have the second Wild Card and they’re playing Friday evening for a spot in the NLDS against the Nationals. Let’s go.