(BaseballStL) -- The Cardinals are hoping the Lance Lynn in October will more like the Lance Lynn in September and not August.
It was a tale of night and day for Lynn over the final two months of the regular season.
“All we would see is just little blips on the screen where it seemed to be a one inning, five runs,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He was dominant for the first three innings. He would give up four or five, and then he'd go another four innings where he just looked great.”
The inability to avoid the ‘big’ inning showed in his six August starts. He finished the month with a 1-4 record and a 5.84 earned-run average. It was the worst month of the season for the 26-year-old right-hander as he was letting his chances of making the postseason rotation slip away.
“It was just a matter of harnessing that one inning and not letting things get out of hand,” Matheny said.
September was a month of avoiding what had seemed unavoidable. Lynn posted a 2-1 record with a 2.12 earned-run average in five starts. Both victories came in his final two starts, including the division-clinching win over the Cubs last Friday.
When asked if he identified anything in September from his less-than-stellar August starts, Lynn replied, “yeah, they were better than the month before, and that's pretty much it.”
Aside from the ‘big’ inning, Lynn also hopes to avoid his rough history against the Pirates when he toes the rubber on Friday afternoon.
Lynn was 2-1 with a 5.60 earned-run average in five regular season starts versus Pittsburgh, including two made in August. It’s something he will look to reverse in Game 2.
“It doesn't matter if it's regular season, postseason, whatever it may be,” Lynn said. “You're just thinking about one thing, and that is getting the job done for your team and giving them a chance to win.”
And Lynn, pitching at home, might give the Cardinals the best chance to go 2-0 in the best-of-five NLDS.
“He's naturally a guy that goes out there like a bull,” Matheny said. “He's had just a real nice tempo on the mound. He's had a great disposition. He's had a lot of confidence when he's on the mound.
“That's something that has just been a great momentum for him and for us, and we're excited to watch him pitch.”
Lynn’s overall numbers, a 15-10 record with a 3.97 earned-run average in 33 starts, might not suit the typical Game 2 starter, but it’s important for the 6-foot-5 240-pound right-hander to get the nod at Busch Stadium, where he’s 9-3 with a 2.82 earned-run average in 16 starts compared to 6-7 on the road with a 5.15 earned-run average.
“Some guys are better at home, better on the road,” Lynn said. “Hitters are the same way, but it's just part of the game. Some people see the ball better at certain places. Some pitchers feel more comfortable at certain places. I have the luxury of throwing in front of the home crowd here and I'm excited about it.”
Lynn will be opposed by rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole.
Cole, who finished 10-7 with a 3.22 earned-run average, appeared in 19 games since June 11 for Pittsburgh, but none against the Cardinals.
“Whether you've seen them a bunch of times or not, you know what they're capable of doing,” Cole said before St. Louis’ 9-1 win on Thursday. “You know in a playoff atmosphere anything can happen, so 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.”
Much like Lynn, Cole rebounded from a shaky August by winning four of his five September starts and posted a 1.69 earned-run average over 32 innings pitched.
“For those of you that have followed our club, you've seen a different Gerrit Cole at the end of the season than you saw when he first walked in the door,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “What we did is we asked him questions. He shared answers. We gave him freedom and opportunity to make adjustments, didn't tell him what we liked and didn't like.”
One adjustment to Cole’s pitching repertoire was the addition of a curveball.
“It's still a really new pitch for me, but I've been able to throw it with more confidence and kind of just let it do what it may and kind of just implement it when I need to,” Cole said.
Another interesting tidbit from his Thursday afternoon press conference was Cole’s preferred attitude when he’s on the mound. The 23-year-old likes to pitch with sort of an edge to his demeanor, which might make for an entertaining Friday matinee at Busch.
“I'm always angry out there,” Cole said. “I think everybody could say they've had success getting really mad, and they've been kicked in the face sometimes when they've gotten really mad and tried to do too much.”
Lynn and Cole look to stay within their limits when the two meet for Game 2 starting at noon on Friday.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Blues and Rams for KMOV.com and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, HockeyStL and FootballStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and updates.