Cardinals announce starting pitchers for first two games vs. Phillies


The Cardinals have finally announced their pitching plans for the first two games of this weekend's playoff series against the Phillies and their Game 1 choice may come as a slight surprise.

Veteran left-hander Jose Quintana will take the ball for St. Louis Friday at 2:07 p.m. Zack Wheeler starts for the Phils.

Neutralizing Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, the two most dangerous hitters in the Phillies' lineup, is obviously a priority for the Cardinals. They went with Quintana in the series opener over fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery. Lefties hit .198 off of Montgmery this season and .219 against Quintana. Both were acquired at the trade deadline and pitched well down the stretch, Quintana posting a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts and Montgomery a 3.11 ERA in 11.

Schwarber and Harper are a combined 1 for 12 with five strikeouts lifetime off of Quintana, the lone hit a Schwarber single.

Starters Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty and Montgomery will be available out of the bullpen in the first two games. Quintana does not go deep into games and starters are typically pulled even earlier in the playoffs. He averaged just over five innings per start this season and is unlikely to make three complete trips through the Phillies' lineup unless he's cruising.

The Cardinals will start right-hander Miles Mikolas in Game 2 Saturday at 8:37 p.m. Mikolas was a horse this season, one of the few pitchers across baseball who was fully stretched out from Game 1. He took down 202⅓ innings with a 3.29 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Mikolas is a quick worker who wants to keep the ball on the ground. He induced three double plays in his 12⅔ innings against the Phillies this season, allowing just a run over 7⅓ in the last meeting.

It's Wheeler vs. Quintana in Game 1, Aaron Nola vs. Mikolas in Game 2.

The Cardinals have not named a starter for Game 3 Sunday night, which will only be necessary if the teams split the first two. The Phillies would use Ranger Suarez in that game, though they could also utilize a right-handed opener to deal with right-handed-hitting MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

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