When last the Nats and Cards squared off in the postseason, way back in 2012, Stephen Strasburg was out of commission. But Ryan Zimmerman and Kurt Suzuki were with the Nationals. The Cardinals will counter with a roster that includes just a few key holdovers: grizzled backstop Yadier Molina, resurgent veteran starter Adam Wainwright, and long-time infielder Matt Carpenter.
For those that watched the club’s NLDS effort closely, this roster will be a familiar one …
- John Brebbia
- Jack Flaherty (game 3 starter)
- Giovanny Gallegos
- Ryan Helsley
- Dakota Hudson (game 4 starter)
- Carlos Martinez
- Miles Mikolas (game 1 starter)
- Daniel Ponce de Leon
- Adam Wainwright (game 2 starter)
As we noted when the St. Louis org rolled out this same roster for the divisional matchup with the Braves, two of the most prominent names not included are right-handed hurlers Michael Wacha and John Gant. The latter fell out of favor amid second-half struggles, and it’s not surprising to see the Cards sticking with their assessment. But the former might have garnered renewed consideration in a longer series since he’s capable of throwing multiple innings. Just about any pitcher can be pushed beyond typical usage this time of year, but if the club needs a true long man, it may turn to Ponce de Leon, who spent much of the year as a starter.
The Cardinals elected not to make any changes to the position-player mix. Arozarena has scant MLB experience and struck out in two of just three plate appearances in the divisional series. But he’ll be retained as a glove-and-run bench piece instead of the more experienced Tyler O’Neill, who might’ve brought more pop in a reserve role.
That aforementioned 2012 NLDS matchup provided lasting memories for Cards fans and nightmares for the Nationals’ faithful. This time around, the St. Louis organization has a clear advantage in its relief corps, though the pen isn’t exactly a dominant unit and the Nats can hope to get many innings from their vaunted rotation. The Nationals hold an advantage in superstar bats, though the Cards arguably possess better position-player depth and a strong rotation of their own. It should be another highly competitive series.