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Cardinals notebook: Starters Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana both will pitch Monday

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St. Louis Cardinals vs Milwaukee Brewers

Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas talks with pitching coach Mike Maddux in the fourth inning of a game against the Brewers on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Milwaukee.

The Cardinals’ postseason rotation isn’t any clearer than it was before their 7-5 loss at home Sunday to the Pittsburgh Pirates. But manager Oliver Marmol did offer up Sunday morning that starters Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana would work shorter stints than normal when they pitch on Monday in Pittsburgh, and that Dakota Hudson will start on Tuesday.

But who will start and who will come in second on Monday is to be determined, Marmol said.

“Maybe I’ll let them play rock, paper, scissors,” he said.

Both hurlers likely are to pitch three innings, according to Marmol.

Mikolas smiled and said, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to discuss such secret information. For whatever reason, they’ve got some cloak-and-dagger games going here. I just think it’s best to hold my tongue. I’m going to throw whenever they give me the ball.

“Sorry I don’t have a better answer.

“I’m going to give you my political answer. I’m going to pitch at some point because I’m a pitcher and if there’s pitching to do, then I’ll pitch. And that will be the pitching that I do when it’s my turn to pitch.”

As for the more pressing question — the two or three starters for the wild-card-round series to be played in St. Louis this coming weekend, Marmol said he really had no idea. Or not much of one, anyway, other than there were five legitimate candidates including left-hander Jordan Montgomery and right-handers Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright. If Flaherty doesn’t start, he seems destined for a key mid-game role in the bullpen.

“Here’s the reality of it,” Marmol said. “If you want to play the hot hand, ‘Q (Quintana)’ should be in that rotation. He’s done an unbelievable job, (facing) both righties and lefties.

“Miles has looked really good against teams we might play. Helluva job against San Diego.

“You’ve got (Jordan) Montgomery, who’s been ‘nails’ since we got him from New York. His last several outings he gave up some homers and didn’t look the same but ... you can count on him.

“Then you have Jack. He’s looked good and he can be used in a couple of ways (starting and relief). Lastly, we can sit here and talk about ‘Waino’ all we want. The reality is that when the game’s on the line — the playoffs are different than the regular season and you’ve got to be able to hold your water — and you’re telling me you’re not going to count on ‘Waino?’ I can argue that.

“There’s a long history of performing when things are on the line. And you have to take that into account. We understand that it hasn’t looked (good) the last several weeks. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. But when everything’s on the line, it’s a different beast.

“It’s going to be tough decision. I don’t know what the three are. But I’m super comfortable picking out of a hat and going to town. ... That’s not how we’ll make the decision,” said Marmol, chuckling.

Much of this was said before Wainwright’s uneven performance in the home season finale Sunday, against Pittsburgh — a team he had beaten 10 consecutive times.

“There’s not going to be a bad choice,” Marmol said.

It is probable that all five starters wouldn’t be on the roster for the first round.

“I’m not sure,” Marmol said.

But it is probable that he would use all five starters in the next round, if there is a next round for the Cardinals.

Pujols sells a lot of tickets

The Cardinals had their 29th sellout crowd, of 46,680, on Sunday to run their season attendance to 3,320,551.

Preseason estimates for attendance were 2.75 million, said Joe Strohm, vice president of ticket sales. He noted that with the lockout that delayed the start of the season, early sales tickets weren’t as plentiful.

The reason for the jump? The return — and second-half surge — of Albert Pujols.

“I would estimate north of 500,000 (tickets sold),” Strohm said.

O’Neill won’t be activated

Marmol said the Cardinals won’t activate outfielder Tyler O’Neill (left hamstring strain) for the series in Pittsburgh that runs Monday-Wednesday, but that O’Neill would hit on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, perhaps against Cardinals pitching in simulated games.

“By Wednesday, we should have a pretty good idea of him making the (playoff) roster or not,” Marmol said.

O’Neill said, “We’ll see how it goes in Pittsburgh. I’ve still got a couple of hoops I’ve got to jump through. We’re a little ways away, still.

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt sat out Sunday’s game and was told not even to put his cleats on.

“But I was ready if they needed me, though,” he said.

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