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With chance to win series vs. first-place Milwaukee, Mikolas leads Cardinals

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Cardinals 7, Blue Jays 3

Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas throws on Monday, May 23, 2022, in the second inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

The idea as Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol puts pen (and it is pen) to paper and jots down several lineups to consider is to be proactive with the schedule, not reactive to the standings.

When he has a rest day scheduled for one of the everyday players, he does not want the results of the previous day to dictate if that happens.

So, win, lose, or delayed Saturday, Nolan Arenado had an off day Sunday.

That was the explanation Marmol gave Sunday morning after posting a lineup for the series finale against Milwaukee that did not include the All-Star third baseman. In the past several weeks, as the Cardinals played 30 games in 31 days, Marmol has stuck to a plan discussed with Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and others about using the designated hitter to get them some breathers and having them take days off entirely.

The goal, Marmol said, was to get them rest before "it was too late," and the body was already exhausted, weary.

Proactive. Not reactive.

The same commitment then has to be made to ignore the results of the previous day's game. Marmol was asked Sunday morning if the Cardinals had not won two consecutive against the division-leading Brewers if he would have started Arenado, or if they were looking to salvage a series vs. Milwaukee would he have started Arenado. The manager said he would fight that urge and stick to the agreed upon schedule.

The Brewers look to split the four-game visit to Busch Stadium with a starter from Corbin Burnes, the reigning Cy Young Award winner and owner of a 2.18 ERA going into the afternoon start. The Cardinals counter with Miles Mikolas, who has been one of their two most consistent pitchers and has lacked the run support to make the most of his 1.96 ERA.

Mikolas' ERA ranks second in the National League, Burnes' sixth.

Packy Naughton will start Monday afternoon's holiday game against San Diego at Busch Stadium. The lefty will need to be added to the active roster ahead of the game, so a transaction must take place after Sunday's game. The Cardinals have not yet decided if they will keep a full complement of pitchers or swap Naughton for another pitcher.

This seems like a good time and place to update some injuries, illnesses:

• Harrison Bader came to the ballpark Sunday feeling ill. He was congested, and as a result the Cardinals will put him through the usual tests before prescribing any treatment. They do not yet know if he'll need more than a day.

• Steven Matz played catch for the first time since leaving a start in Pittsburgh after throwing four pitches. He had a cortisone shot to tame the inflammation in his left shoulder. He will advance from here to throwing off the mound, and he's missed about a week due to the injury.

• Alex Reyes (torn labrum) has yet to have the surgery prescribed to repair the damage in his right shoulder. He is increasingly expected to miss the entirety of the season.

• Tyler O'Neill (shoulder impingement) continued to increase the intensity of his swings and work in the batting cage. The team believes he can begin a rehab assignment as early as Tuesday at one of the minor-league affiliates. That would allow him to be back with the team within a week.

• Jack Flaherty (shoulder) will face hitters Wednesday in another live batting practice session and he's striding toward the next step in his recovery and buildup of arm strength.

• Dylan Carlson (torn hamstring) continues to be limited as his leg heals.

• Jordan Hicks (forearm flexor) continues to be on a no-throw program to get rest for the arm. He isn't eligible to return for another 12 days, and the Cardinals intend to send him on a minor-league rehab assignment once he cleared to throw in competition.

And now the lineups.

CARDINALS

1. Tommy Edman, SS

2. Nolan Gorman, 2B

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Juan Yepez, LF

5. Brendan Donovan, RF

6. Corey Dickerson, DH

7. Andrew Knizner, C

8. Lars Nootbaar, CF

9. Edmundo Sosa, 3B

P: Miles Mikolas, RHP

BREWERS

1. Kolten Wong, 2B

2. Luis Urias, SS

3. Christian Yelich, DH

4. Andrew McCutchen, LF

5. Rowdy Tellez, 1B

6. Tyrone Taylor, RF

7. Omar Narvaez, C

8. Lorenzo Cain, CF

9. Jace Peterson, 3B

P: Corbin Burnes, RHP

Check back later this afternoon for complete coverage of the game from the keyboard of Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel. There will also be expanded coverage in Monday's holiday edition of the Post-Dispatch and StlToday.com from the four Post-Dispatch writers present at Busch Stadium for the series finale.

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