ST. LOUIS — After 48 hours of hand-wringing, Cardinal fans can rest easy knowing Adam Wainwright will take the hill in Game 1 of the NLCS.
The St. Louis ace became an impromptu question mark after discussion of lingering symptoms stemming from elbow tendinitis led many to believe the Cardinals were concerned about Wainwright’s health. Mike Matheny assuaged those fears Thursday when he addressed the media at the club’s workout day.
“He’s fine, we’ll just watch him close like we watch everyone else and take it from there,” he said. “Just like all year. I think there were some things taken out of context and blown up probably more than they needed to be when it was a statement of basically just the obvious; that Lance Lynn would be on regular rest incase something didn’t look right, feel right.”
The manager said Wainwright’s poor performance in Game 1 of the NLDS exacerbated speculation, noting that it was obvious the starter did not have a good feel for his pitches. As the game went on, the 33-year-old seemed to lean more heavily on his curveball, clearly struggling with command of his other weapons.
With that start behind him, Matheny expressed confidence Wainwright would rebound for the NLCS.
“That’s happened at different times throughout our season and he’s been able to bounce back and figure it out and make it work,” Matheny said. “Not just make it work, but be an elite pitcher.”
Behind him, the rotation from the NLDS will remain unchanged. Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Shelby Miller are all in line to throw, with the finalized bullpen being announced Friday.
For the Giants, lefty Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound in the series opener. The 25-year-old finished with 18 wins and an ERA under 3.00, striking out roughly nine hitters a game. Jhonny Peralta was one of the few players remaining in the clubhouse once the media was admitted, and said the Cards are prepared for the challenges of another dynamic southpaw.
“Kind of like Kershaw. He’s got a good slider and the fastball is pretty good too,” he said. “He’s got a different angle, too. It’s hard to face him.”
The St. Louis offense has evolved into a power threat in October, leading the postseason in home runs after finishing in the National League basement in the category for the regular season.
“That’s how baseball is, you know?” Peralta smiled.
Bumgarner surrendered only 21 homers all year, with only one allowed to a left-handed batter. The Birds have four homers from lefties in the postseason, with Matt Carpenter’s three tied with Bryce Harper atop the playoff standings.