PITTSBURGH — Although there is an off day on Monday, the Cardinals will not alter their rotation for the upcoming series in Denver and probably won’t adjust it until the last series of the season, if then.
Manager Mike Shildt said that Michael Wacha, who had a two-inning start on Wednesday, would start Tuesday at Colorado, to be followed by Dakota Hudson and Miles Mikolas, who worked here Friday night. Then, when the Cardinals return home, Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty and Wacha are slated to face Milwaukee.
The rest of the way. Flaherty will have that start against Milwaukee, one at Arizona and two against Chicago, if necessary. Hudson will have one against Washington and two against Chicago. On the last weekend of the season, Hudson, Mikolas (who also will have two against the Cubs) and Wainwright would line up, in order, but Shildt conceded that staff ace Flaherty could pitch in the season finale, if necessary, as he would be on proper rest because of a day off earlier in that week.
Here is the tentative rotation the rest of the season:
Saturday-Sunday at Pittsburgh: Adam Wainwright, Flaherty.
Tuesday-Thursday at Colorado: Wacha, Hudson, Mikolas.
Sept. 13-15 vs. Milwaukee: Wainwright, Flaherty, Wacha.
Sept. 16-18 vs. Washington: Hudson, Mikolas, Wainwright.
Sept. 19-22 at Chicago: Flaherty, Wacha, Hudson, Mikolas.
Sept. 23-25 at Arizona: Wainwright, Flaherty, Wacha.
Sept. 27-29 vs. Chicago: Hudson, Mikolas, Wainwright/Flaherty.
The Cardinals have employed only seven starters this season, tying their lowest for this century. The 2005 club employed only seven starters, with Cal Eldred and Anthony Reyes making one apiece. This year, righthander Daniel Ponce de Leon has made eight starts and lefthander Genesis Cabrera two while the aforementioned starters have made the other 131.
“It’s really important, because we know who’s taking the ball,” said Shildt. “Who’s taking the ball are quality guys and I really applaud them. Of course, they’ve got great support from the medical team.”
The Cardinals’ quintet has had only two stints on the injured list and none with an arm injury. Wacha had knee tendinitis and Wainwright a hamstring injury.
“It’s credit to a lot of people,” said Shildt, “but the player always gets the credit.”
Pitching coach Mike Maddux said, “The adage in spring training is, ‘You’re not going to have the same five guys all year. But, if you can, it’s going to be a pretty darn good year.’
“Credit to the performance team, the training staff and the players themselves in being diligent in their off-field work.”
The 2000 club used only six starters, with rookie Britt Reames making seven starts and Darryl Kile, Garrett Stephenson, Pat Hengten, rookie Rick Ankiel and Andy Benes the rest, ranging from Kile’s 34 to 27 for Benes.
WONG TRIGGERS A TEAR
Kolten Wong, hitting .367 since the All-Star break and .469 since Aug. 29, said he owes much of it to the elimination of his right leg kick as a trigger. He pivots his right leg now but doesn’t lift it, much like Paul Goldschmidt with his left leg, and keeps his base the same.
He said he was using it as his two-strike approach, at first.
“I was tired of striking out,” he said. “There was about a week’s stretch when I was striking out on three pitches said, ‘This isn’t it. I can’t be doing that.’
“So I went with to that (new approach) and it was kind of weird, at first.”
When he doubled with two strikes a couple of weeks ago off flame-throwing Milwaukee lefthander Josh Hader, Wong thought he could use the approach at all times and not just with two strikes.
“The leg kick is always good for timing,” Wong said, “but your timing has to be perfect. At this point of the season, we’re all kind of tired, so the more simplistic you make your swing . . .”
Wong said this has come in handy especially against shifts and he has hit a number of balls to left field, including tripling over the third-base bag against Cincinnati on the last home stand when he tripled in three consecutive games.
Wong’s younger brother, second baseman Kean Wong, finally was brought up by Tampa Bay and made his major-league debut on Thursday.
“I figured he’d have a chance,” said Wong, “but I didn’t think it would be with the Rays. It was definitely something the whole family was excited about. That was kind of my mom’s last wish (she died in (2013). My brother promised her he would make it to the big leagues and that’s come full circle.”
At Tampa Bay, Kean Wong, nothing for two in his debut, joined former Cardinal Tommy Pham.
“I texted Tommy as soon as I found out and said, ‘I knew you’ve got to give him the rookie initiation . . . but just watch over my brother,’” said Wong. “It’s cool to have Tommy there.”
Wong had an invitation to go out with some of his teammates after they got here Thursday night. But he declined, preferring to watch the Toronto-Tampa Bay game on his iPad.
First baseman Rangel Ravelo, who was hitless in his first eight pinch-hit at-bats in his two stints with the Cardinals, is four for four in his last four pinch swings, with two doubles, a single and his first home run, a two-run shot, on Thursday.
“In those ‘oh for eights,’ there were a lot of good at-bats, too,” said Shildt. “I have a lot of confidence in Rangel taking a good at-bat. This guy is an accomplished professional hitter.”
Cabrera threw 32 strikes out of 39 pitches over three scoreless innings of relief on Thursday. “He’s got great stuff,” said Shildt. “If he’s on the plate and challenging hitters and making quality pitches, he’s going to be a really good major league pitcher.
“There’s no big secret to this game.”