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First Pitch: Lineup set for first playoff game at Busch since 2019, Pujols hits second

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Jose Quintana to start Game 1 of Cardinals' first-round MLB playoff series

First Pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. at Busch Stadium 

The Cardinals hope to open strong Friday in their first postseason game at Busch Stadium since the 2019 NLCS. They're sending what's been described as their "best lineup" to the plate against one of the best pitching cores in baseball — but there will be a twist to the lineup.

Manager Oliver Marmol has shaken up the usual lineup for Game 1 of the NL Wild Card series, slotting Albert Pujols into the second spot, where Pujols hit in just nine games this season.

The traditional opening tandem of Brendan Donovan and Lars Nootbaar is in the lineup, but are also in nontraditional places. Nootbaar will lead off and play right field, and Donovan will start at second base and hit fifth.

The move gives the Cardinals' hottest hitter, Pujols, more opportunities at the plate, with strong on-base percentages down the lineup in Brendan Donovan and, later on, Tommy Edman. Edman will hit ninth and play shortstop.

Donovan is not a traditional protection bat for the core of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, but he does work counts better than just about anyone in baseball. He sees 4.7 pitches per at-bat, seventh best in the majors. When facing a pitcher like Zach Wheeler, who is still building up from an injury in late August, extending innings or even at-bats can be valuable both today and later in the series. 

A predication Cardinal Manager Oliver Marmol made of the Phillies lineup came to fruition this morning. Marmol indicated yesterday he anticipated the Phillies to slot a right handed hitter between top lefty hitters Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper to make this difficult for the southpaw Jose Quintana in his third time through the order. Phillies manager Rob Thompson, the first Canadian manager to ever take his team to the playoffs, did just that. Slotting Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto into the second and third batting spots.

St. Louis native Matt Vierling will start in center field and hit ninth for the Phillies. Former Cardinal Edmundo Sosa is also on the playoff roster.

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

Lineups

CARDINALS (93-68, NL Central Champions) 

1. Lars Nootbaar, RF

2. Albert Pujols, DH

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Brendan Donovan, 2B

6. Dylan Carlson, CF

7. Corey Dickerson, LF

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Tommy Edman, SS

P: Jose Quintana, LHP

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. Jean Segura, 2B

8. Bryson Stott, SS

9. Matt Vierling, CF 

P: Zach Wheeler, RHP

Pitching Matchup

LHP Jose Quintana (Regular Season: 6-7, 2.98 ERA): One of the most successful trade acquisitions at the deadline around the league, the Cardinals are 9-3 in games which Quintana starts. The lefty is making his third career postseason start, last appearing for the Cubs in 2017.

RHP Zach Wheeler (Regular Season: 12-7, 2.82 ERA): Still building off of an injury that sidelined him for a month in late early August, Wheeler has not thrown more than 77 pitches in an outing since returning. In the three starts since returning, he's allowed just one earned run in 15 innings pitched

  • Today marks the 11 year anniversary of the last time the Cardinals beat the Phillies in postseason play. Chris Carpenter dueled good friend Roy Halladay to a 1-0 epic, moving the Cardinals on to a NLCS and soon thereafter the World Series. The Phillies have not been back to the playoffs since that day. 
  • 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 all-time and his 95 hits is eighth most all-time. Yadier Molina's 102 post season 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. 

Up Next

The Cardinals continue their wild card series with the Phillies tomorrow night, with Game 2 set to start at 7:37. Miles Mikolas will take on Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola in what will be an elimination game for one of the two teams.

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 Friday night, and also in the pages of Saturday's Post-Dispatch. 

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