As expected, the St. Louis Cardinals will give the ball to stalwart right-hander Adam Wainwright in the NL Wild Card Game, manager Mike Shildt told reporters on Thursday, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals clinched the second wild-card spot earlier this week and will face either the Dodgers or Giants in the winner-take-all game next Wednesday.
Wainwright, 40, is the obvious choice to start the Wild Card Game. He’s had an excellent season, throwing 206 1/3 innings with a 3.05 ERA, plus the team lacks a clear alternative. Jack Flaherty recently returned from a shoulder issue and is limited to bullpen duty, and Wainwright is a better option than veteran lefties JA Happ and Jon Lester.
In his most recent start Wainwright held the first-place Brewers to two runs in six innings on Tuesday. Unless he makes a short tune-up appearance over the weekend (unlikely), he will start the Wild Card Game on a full week’s rest. Given his age and workload this year, giving Wainwright extra rest before a win or go home game is sensible.
SportsLine puts their NL West title odds at 96.5 percent. It’s not set in stone yet, but a Cardinals vs. Dodgers Wild Card Game looks likely., and will go on the road in the Wild Card Game. The Giants hold a two-game lead over the Dodgers with four to play, and
Walker Buehler is as good a Wild Card Game fallback plan as it gets should Scherzer pitch Monday.unless he’s needed in a Game 163 tiebreaker on Monday.
At 40 years and 37 days, Wainwright will be by far the oldest pitcher to start a Wild Card Game, beating out Charlie Morton in 2019 (35 years and 324 days). Scherzer, should he start next week, would become the second-oldest Wild Card Game starter.