MIAMI—With none of the Cardinals’ starters having lasted longer than five innings the first time through the rotation, it is incumbent on righthander Jack Flaherty, the acknowledged ace of the staff, to alter that pattern Wednesday afternoon and give some key members of the bullpen a rest in the series finale with the Miami Marlins.
“We could use the length out of Jack,” manager Mike Shildt said. “We’ve got some guys that will be down. And we’ve got some guys who will be back and available.”
John Gant, who needed 82 pitches to traverse four innings in Tuesday’s 4-2 win, said, “I don’t think five meets the mark. Six or better is what you want to accomplish and leave the bullpen with three or less innings to have to pick up. It's going to save them down the road.”
The Cardinals won the first two games of the series but their relievers had to work nine innings, allowing just one run. In Flaherty’s first start, he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings in an 11-6 Cardinals victory at Cincinnati in the season opener.
According to Post-Dispatch research conducted with the help of Retrosheet, the Cardinals never had opened a season without a starter going longer than five innings in the first five games of the season.
Matt Carpenter, who stung two balls on Tuesday, including a deep fly ball to left center which would have been out of most parks, and was the only starter not to strike out, is back at second base despite his .000 average. Normal second baseman Tommy Edman again is in right field against righthander Pablo Lopez.
“I really liked Carp’s at-bats,” said Shildt, “Driving the ball the other way is really a great indicator. He didn’t get any love for it. He worked a walk and yeah, I felt good about his at-bats.´
Shildt said that Lopez was a sinkerball pitcher, like Sandy Alcantara on Tuesday, and that Carpenter might help as a fly ball hitter. He also said he might stay with this configuration if results dictate. Right fielders Justin Williams and Austin Dean are nothing for 17 with 10 strikeouts.
“I can’t rule it out,” Shildt said. “We are committed to make sure we’re giving guys opportunities but we’re also committed to winning baseball games. If Carp’s in a good spot and does what he’s capable of doing, you can’t ignore that, for sure.”
This is the sixth and final game of a trip before the Cardinals come home to face Milwaukee on Thursday at Busch Stadium.
1. Tommy Edman rf
2. Paul Goldschmidt 1b
3. Nolan Arenado 3b
4. Paul DeJong ss
5. Matt Carpenter 2b
6. Yadier Molina c
7. Tyler O’Neill lf
8. Dylan Carlson cf
9. Jack Flaherty p
1. Corey Dickerson lf
2. Starling Marte cf
3. Jesus Aguilar 1b
4. Garrett Cooper rf
5. Brian Anderson 3b
6. Jazz Chisholm Jr. ss
7. Jon Berti 2b
8. Chad Wallach c
9. Pablo Lopez p