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First Pitch: Nolan Arenado scratched from lineup as precaution ahead of opener with Pirates

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First Pitch is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. at Pittsburgh's PNC Park 

Nolan Arenado, who was originally slotted into the lineup to play third base and hit cleanup, was scratched from the lineup before first pitch. He took batting practice and did infield drills pregame. Derrick Goold reports from Pittsburgh that President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said the move was "precautionary", and there's no reason to "push through" anything.

Juan Yepez has been subbed into his place and will bat sixth and play third base. Albert Pujols moves into the cleanup spot. 

From earlier...

The Cardinals and manager Oliver Marmol have begun arranging their post-season pitching rotation, and will use their starters in a nontraditional way on Monday to keep pitchers fresh and flexible. 

Jose Quintana will start today's game, with Miles Mikolas coming on in relief at some point. Both pitchers will be on a limited pitch count with the intention only of keeping rhythm with their usual schedules. 

The Cardinals lineup features its stars. Paul Goldschmidt returns to the lineup after taking Sunday afternoon off to allow Albert Pujols to make the start at first base. 

Marmol said Sunday that Pujols will get every opportunity to pass Babe Ruth for second in all-time RBI this week. He is currently tied with Ruth at 2,214. Hank Aaron is first with 2,297.

Andrew Knizner, who will catch, and Paul DeJong, who will play shortstop, round out the bottom of the lineup as the Cardinals continue to give Yadier Molina rest ahead of the postseason.

While there are no known aliments plaguing Tommy Edman, this is the second game in a row he's found himself on the bench. Edman has been essential to the Cardinals' success this year, though Marmol has said he's looking for opportunities to get him rest. With the division and playoff seeding secured, this may just be a case of that.

Alternative viewing

While the St. Louis series with the Pirates can not impact the Cardinals' placement or opponents in the playoffs, three series around MLB still can. 

There is still a three-horse race for the fifth and sixth seeds in the National League, with the San Diego Padres entering play Monday night as the fifth seed, and the Philadelphia Phillies currently occupying the sixth seed. The Milwaukee Brewers sit two games behind the Phillies while San Diego sits above them with a one-game lead. Each team has three games to play, meaning the Cardinals could still face any of those three teams in the first round of the playoffs.

While the Brewers are the least likely, with an elimination number of one — meaning any loss or Phillies win would eliminate them from the playoffs — the Padres' situation remains fluid. 

Wild Card Standings 

5. San Diego Padres +1.0

6. Philadelphia Phillies -- GB

7. Milwaukee Brewers 2.0 GB

The Phillies own the tiebreaker over both the Padres, meaning they only need to close that one-game gap to clinch the fifth seed at the end of the season, pushing the Padres to Busch Stadium. 

If you are inclined to watch or check in, here are when and who those teams play this evening: 

Philadelphia Phillies at Houston Astros, 7:15 p.m. 

Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers, 6:40 p.m.

San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres, 8:40 p.m.

Lineups

CARDINALS (92-67) updated at 5:33 p.m.

1. Brendan Donovan, 2B

2. Lars Nootbaar, RF

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Albert Pujols, DH

5. Corey Dickerson, LF

6. Juan Yepez, 3B

7. Dylan Carlson, CF

8. Andrew Knizner, C

9. Paul DeJong, SS

P: Jose Quintana, LHP

PIRATES (60-99)  

1. Kevin Newman, SS

2. Bryan Reynolds, CF

3. Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B

4. Miguel Andujar, LF

5. Rodolfo Castro, 2B

6. Oneil Cruz, DH

7. Diego Castillo, 1B

8. Jack Suwinski, RF

9. Jason Delay, C

Pitching Matchup

LHP Jose Quintana (6-7, 2.99 ERA): Making his 32nd start of the season, Quintana will be on a limited pitch count as he is pitching on short rest. Miles Mikolas will follow Quintana to similarly get work in. 

RHP Mitch Keller (5-12, 3.92 ERA): Making his fourth start of the season against St. Louis, Keller has been largely successful in his previous appearances. While the Pirates are 0-3 in his starts, Keller's 3.31 ERA and total of 6 earned runs over those starts have given his team a chance to win every time.

Wild Cards

  • Albert Pujols has eclipsed the 700 Home Run mark, but still has history to chase. With one more RBI, "The Machine" would pass Babe Ruth for second all-time on the RBI list with 2,215. 

Injury Report 

  • Tyler O'Neill travelled to Pittsburgh with the Cardinals on the taxi squad and took live at-bats against Cardinals pitchers Monday. Facing lefty's Packy Naughton and Genesis Cabrera. The Cardinals feel it is unlikely he plays in the three game series to close the season, but wouldn't need to make it into a game before being added to the playoff roster (Updated Oct. 3)
  • Jordan Hicks travelled to Pittsburgh with the Cardinals on the taxi squad. The Cardinals were encouraged by his rehab earlier in the week and felt it possible he could return to action in this series.  (Updated Oct. 3)
  • RHP Drew VerHagen (hip) and RHP Alex Reyes (shoulder) underwent season-ending surgeries. Both right-handed pitchers are expected to be ready for spring training after a winter of recovery. (Updated Aug. 20)

Up Next

The Cardinals close the regular season in Pittsburgh and await their opponent for the wild card series in St. Louis. 

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 Monday night, and also in the pages of Tuesday's Post-Dispatch. 

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