Wacha has lasted at least 6 2/3 frames across 21 innings with eight hits and one run, and is the likely candidate to pitch Game 2. He outdueled vaunted Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 of the LCS, tossing seven shutout innings, while his counterpart was roughed up for seven runs and 10 hits over just four innings against a cohesive St. Louis lineup.
Matheny can't go wrong with Game 3 options in Joe Kelly, another baby-faced hurler, or Lance Lynn. Kelly took the mound first in the NLCS and did not record a decision with six innings of two-run ball. However, he was reached for four runs in five innings of a Game 5 loss. Still, Kelly went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in the regular season and kept hitters off-balance much like Wacha because most of the opposing lineups have never faced them.
That theory holds true with Shelby Miller. Miller was a 15-game winner (15-9) in 31 starts in the regular season with a 3.06 ERA and was relegated to bullpen duties in the playoffs. The club likes Miller as a multiple-innings reliever and he pitched just one inning in the division series against the Pirates. The Cardinals didn't really need to go to Miller because their starters worked deep into games. Miller, whose last appearance was Oct. 4, said his arm is "fresh" and Matheny wants to keep the righty in the bullpen.
"If we've got to eat innings we have all the confidence in the world even though he hasn't been out there in a while," Matheny said. "It's not an easy job, just like it's not easy being a bench player. But you've got to figure it out (how) to make it happen because when we need you, we need you bad."
Pitching helped the Cardinals to the 2006 World Series title in five games against the Detroit Tigers and another championship in 2011 against the Texas Rangers (7 games). Lynn pitched the Cardinals to a win in Game 3 of that series and they should be in good shape if he can get back to his dominant ways. Lynn has compiled a 2-1 mark in three games (2 starts) this postseason.
The rotation does have its work cut out against Boston's top hitters in David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Ortiz is the designated hitter, but is expected to share first-base duties with Mike Napoli when the series shifts to Busch Stadium Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
While the rotation garners much-deserved attention in this series, the bullpen will have to do its job to keep the Red Sox from getting into a groove. Miller is rested and fellow relievers Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist have been busy from the prior series. Rosenthal has three saves during the postseason.
Los Angeles is just as intimidating as Boston, and St. Louis never backed down in eliminating the high-priced club. Money doesn't buy you velocity or a changeup or curveball. Talent does. And that's what this Cardinals' staff has.
Don't think for one moment Boston's superstitious beards will play a role because a fastball high and tight from either Wainwright, Wacha or Kelly will trim a few whiskers.
Facial hair or not, the underdog Cardinals are prepared to spin the seams and exact revenge from 2004.