PHILADELPHIA • A Saturday meeting between Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist produced an organizational decision not to alter Adam Wainwright's place in the starting rotation despite an approaching run of games against divisional leader Cincinnati and wild-card contender Pittsburgh.
Matheny announced that rookie Joe Kelly will take Tuesday's start, against Arizona, before Wainwright appears on turn Wednesday.
The club had contemplated bumping Wainwright ahead of Kelly, which would have put Wainwright on schedule to face the Reds and Pirates three times this month. Wainwright will instead face the divisional rivals once — or possibly twice should an adjustment be made after an Aug. 20 off date.
Matheny has made every attempt not to disrupt the rotation and on Friday cited both physical reasons and morale for adhering to the philosophy.
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"Any time in the dog days you can give guys an extra day it makes sense, especially with a couple guys in the rotation we're concerned about stacking too much on," Matheny said.
The Cardinals are acutely aware Lance Lynn never has thrown more than 164 innings in a professional season. Wainwright is on pace to throw 204 2/3 innings a year after missing the 2011 season because of elbow ligament replacement. Wainwright, however, has won his last three decisions and has provided six quality starts within seven appearances since July 2.
Lilliquist said the schedule was "very much" taken into consideration but that the committee gave greater weight to allowing the starters as much rest as possible. Ultimately, Lilliquist argued "any game is a win." The time for re-ordering the rotation would come later.
The adopted alignment means — barring adjustment — Wainwright won't face the Pirates next weekend at home or during the teams' three-game series Aug. 17-19 in Pittsburgh. Wainwright is scheduled to work the series finale in Cincinnati, on Aug. 26. Matheny also cited the pending return of Jaime Garcia as a factor in the decision.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal advanced to the No. 7 spot in Saturday's lineup as rookie Ryan Jackson moved into the No. 8 slot. To hear Matheny, expectations on offense for the sore-backed Furcal remain minimal.
"He's doing a nice job playing a solid, solid shortstop," Matheny said. "We'll take what we can get offensively."
Hitting .263 after going 0 for three Saturday in the Cardinals' 4-1 victory over the Phillies, Furcal several times has voiced frustration over a condition that has compromised his swing. He ranked among the NL leaders in hits and multi-hit games until late May. He has since struggled with a chronic shin condition compounded by back stiffness that required an epidural injection last week.
Furcal batted .333 through May but is hitting only .199 (43 for 216) since. He had managed only four extra-base hits since May compared to nine in the season's first two months.
Matheny termed Furcal as "day to day" offensively depending on how he feels. He continues to receive extensive treatment before each game.
The Rzep'-Browning debate
Matheny's willingness to give Friday's eighth inning of a tie game to rookie Barret Browning left a lingering debate about the bullpen's pecking order. Matheny indicated that Browning was that night's preference because of a string of approaching lefthanders, including Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Though veteran Brian Fuentes is assigned more a universal role against righthanders and lefties, Browning and Marc Rzepczynski trend more heavily toward match-ups. Browning had held lefthanded hitters to a .125 average (three-for-24) before losing a 1-1 tie on Utley's two-run home run.
Browning had warmed during the seventh inning. Had the Cardinals taken the lead in the top of the eighth, Matheny probably would have employed set-up righthander Mitchell Boggs. With Browning warm, a decision was made not to stir a second lefthander when the Cardinals failed to score.
Browning has allowed 11 hits in 15 1/3 innings since his June 30 debut. Friday's loss was his first big-league decision.