The Fool On The Hill

He sees the sun going down, and the eyes in his head, sees the world spinning ’round.

Voices are talking: Who should start the play-in game if the Cardinals advance to the new, one-game showdown between the top two non-division winners.

Vegas predicts St. Louis at Atlanta, so we’ll go ahead and talk about it, even though there’s work to be done.

Let’s take a look at our candidates:

Kyle Lohse
9 playoff appearances. Allowed 28 hits in 26 innings pitched. An ugly 5.54 ERA. Has NEVER pitched more than 5.1 innings (gave up 5 earned) in a postseason game.

Adam Wainwright
10 playoff appearences (1 start). 0.51 ERA…1 earned in 17.2 innings. Pitched the 9th inning in every clincher during 2006 World Championship.

Chris Carpenter
15 playoff appearances, 15 starts. 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 94.1 innings pitched. Shredded his arm during 2011 playoffs only to return from “season-ending” surgery in late September for a pennant run. Highlights included a classic complete-game shutout in Game 5 of the NLDS at Philadelphia, and three starts in the World Series, including Game 7 on three days rest.

Jerry Hairston Jr. #15 and George Kottaras #16 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate after Hairston scored as Kyle Lohse #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on during Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Now, Kyle Lohse has been absolutely stellar in 2012; stabilizing a rotation puzzled with injuries, road woes, and bad luck. Lohse cracked the All-Star squad, hasn’t missed a start (32), and rocks a 2.77 ERA. He’s been great during the regular season.

But this is the postseason. This is where you put the ‘best you got’ on the mound. With no disrespect towards Lohse, he’s not headed to Cooperstown after his playing days. He’s serviceable, durable, but unsuccessful when it counts. 

Considering the Cardinals’ postseason potential, throwing Lohse might emulate the 2012 Cardinals: Woulda’, Coulda’, Shoulda’.

Forget comparing Friday’s contest to any Game 7 of the World Series. No point in talking about the biggest stage if you can’t get past the preliminary game to the dance. The Cardinals need 12 wins to secure their 12th World Championship, ironically in the year 2012.

Believe it folks, 12 in 12, in 12.

I’m not the manager, so who I’d start is indifferent, but I wouldn’t start Lohse. First year manager Mike Matheny needs to trust his gut. He can’t pick someone out of respect. He must pick somebody to take charge at Turner Field to win the most pivotal game in 2012.

Carpenter best resembles Bob Gibson in my era of Cardinals baseball, and boy, to bypass a future HOF pitcher for a guy who pitched great in a contract year would be both disconcerting, and costly.


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