Cardinals likely to start Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha to open NLCS

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright won't start against the Dodgers until Game 3 of the NLCS on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers will open the 2013 National League Championship Series on Friday night against the Cardinals in St. Louis. We already know that the Dodgers will start Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in Games 1 and 2. The Cardinals haven't yet announced their NLCS rotation, but it's looking like Joe Kelly will start Game 1 for St. Louis.

The Cardinals rotation looks to be Kelly, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright in the first three games, with Lance Lynn looming as an option either in Game 1 or Game 4, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Wacha has allowed seven runs in his last five starts, dating back to the beginning of September, including back-to-back starts with one hit allowed in his last two outings. He and Wainwright line up to pitch Games 6 and 7 for the Cardinals, if necessary.

Kelly, a Corona native who pitched for UC Riverside, was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 37 games for St. Louis this season, including 15 starts, with 79 strikeouts and 44 walks in 124 innings. He allowed two runs and nine baserunners in 5⅓ innings in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Pirates.

Lynn was 15-10 with a 3.97 ERA in 33 starts during the season, with 198 strikeouts and 76 walks in 201⅔ innings. He allowed four runs and 10 baserunners in 4⅓ innings in Game 2 against Pittsburgh. Both Kelly and Lynn beat the Dodgers in their only start against them in 2013, and Kelly also allowed two runs and struck out six in three innings in a relief appearance on May 25 in Los Angeles. Lynn struck out nine in six scoreless innings one day earlier.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn't want to divulge the starting rotation immediately after beating the Pirates on Wednesday.

"We'll talk about that later," Matheny said, per Chad Thornburg of MLB.com. "We certainly weren't getting too far past today. We respect the game too much to get any further past what we had in our hand, and we had our hands full."

Another Game 4 option for the Cardinals is Shelby Miller, who pitched out of the bullpen during the NLDS and has thrown a career-high 174⅓ innings in his age-22 season (he turns 23 Thursday). Per Goold:

"I have no idea when I’m pitching," Miller said. "Pretty much taking it day by day, keeping it simple. You never know what days you’re going to pitch."

The move to the bullpen does put a limit on the young arm’s innings — a priority for the Cardinals all season. He said one bullpen session would get him ready to make a start, if needed.

"I just feel like I haven’t thrown in forever," he said. "We’ll see what happens."

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