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First Pitch: Facing elimination, Cardinals revamp lineup, start Juan Yepez vs. Phillies

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First Pitch is scheduled for 7:37 p.m. at Busch Stadium 

After what Juan Yepez described as a "tough" loss yesterday, the Cardinals will fight for their season, facing elimination in the best of three series with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Manager Oliver Marmol, who received criticism for his handling of the bullpen in his first playoff game as a manager, has tinkered with his lineup a tad, opting to remove Dylan Carlson from the starting position and replace him with yesterday's would-be hero Juan Yepez. Lars Nootbaar will move over and start at centerfield. 

The move signals an odd shift from what was the definitive trusted outfield but allows for a more stable batting lineup of hitters against a dominant right-handed pitcher. Carlson, a switch hitter, has struggled of late when swinging from the left side, whereas Yepez has been strong against pitchers of both handedness. Going with a strong swing regardless of the matchup is a move worth noting. 

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol indicated the shift to Yepez is also a sort of "all-in" play for offense as closer Ryan Helsley will not be available. While Helsley's medical reports came back negative and he is otherwise available, he will sit tonight due to workload and would be available tomorrow should there be a game. 

Due to Marmol not being able to shorten the game with his otherwise excellent closer, the Cardinals feel they needed more offensive fire power today.

The rest of the lineup remains the same, most notably going with Albert Pujols in the two hole again and Brendan Donovan hitting in the fifth spot in the lineup.

Lineups

CARDINALS (93-68, NL Central Champions) 

1. Lars Nootbaar, CF

2. Albert Pujols, DH

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Brendan Donovan, 2B

6. Juan Yepez, RF

7. Corey Dickerson, LF

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Tommy Edman, SS

P: Miles Mikolas, RHP

PHILLIES (87-75, 3rd Wild Card)

1. Kyle Schwarber, LF

2. Rhys Hoskins, 1B

3. J.T. Realmuto, C

4. Bryce Harper, DH

5. Nick Castellanos, RF

6. Alec Bohm, 3B

7. Brandon Marsh, CF

8. Jean Segura, 2B

9. Bryson Stott, SS 

P: Aaron Nola, RHP

Cardinals 26-Man Roster

Pitchers

Jack Flaherty, Giovanni Gallegos, Ryan Helsley, Jordan Hicks, Steven Matz, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery, Packy Naughton, Andre Pallante, Jose Quintana, Zach Thompson, Adam Wainwright

Catchers

Andrew Knizner, Yadier Molina

Infielders

Nolan Arenado, Paul DeJong, Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Gorman, Albert Pujols

Outfielders

Dylan Carlson, Ben DeLuzio, Corey Dickerson, Lars Nootbaar, Juan Yepez

Pitching Matchup

RHP Miles Mikolas (Regular Season: 12-13, 3.29 ERA): In his two appearances in the playoffs, Miles Mikolas has been dominant for the Cardinals. Making two starts in the 2019 playoffs, the eccentric righty held a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings pitched. He will need his best stuff today, but he has been solid against the Phillies this year, making two starts and allowing three earned runs over 13 combined innings.

RHP Aaron Nola (Regular Season: 11-13, 3.25 ERA): Nola struggled against the Cardinals earlier this season, getting tagged for five runs over seven innings when he visited Busch Stadium in July. As of late he has been all or nothing, allowing four runs and zero runs in alternating starts dating back as far as the beginning of September. 

 Wild Cards 

  • The Cardinals made a series of firsts yesterday — some good some bad. Juan Yepez's pinch-hit home run was the first pinch-hit homer to take a lead in the postseason in Cardinals' history. On the flip side, the ninth inning collapse was the first time the Cardinals gave up a two-run lead in the ninth of a playoff game. 
  • The Cardinals retiring duo could move their way up the postseason record books this October. Albert Pujols next home run would tie him with Derek Jeter (20) for fourth-most of all time and his 95 hits is eighth-most of all time. Yadier Molina's 102 postseason games is sixth-most, and his 101 hits is fifth-most. If Molina can collect two more hits he will pass Jorge Posada for most hits by a catcher in the postseason.

Injury Report 

  • Tyler O'Neill has been sent to the Arizona Fall League to get at-bats with as he rehabs. The goal would be to get live at-bats over the weekend with the intention of being healthy enough to join the club for the NLDS next week. 
  • Ryan Helsley was sent out for additional testing after exiting in the ninth inning yesterday. He returned with negative results and rejoined the club. He will sit today after his 30 pitch outing yesterday, but would be available in a possible Game 3. 

Up Next

The Cardinals season could be over by the time tomorrow comes, but if they're still in the game, the Cardinals will play Game 3 Sunday night. While tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m., it could begin as early as 6 p.m. depending 

Check back here throughout the afternoon and evening for immediate coverage of the game and any news that surfaces from the Cardinals' pre-game activities. We will publish expanded game coverage online Saturday night, and also in the pages of Sunday's Post-Dispatch. 

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