ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Matheny provided his first glimpse on Friday on how he may utilize Adam Wainwright, his newest bullpen weapon, throughout the postseason.
As Trevor Rosenthal navigated through the ninth inning in the Cardinals' 4-0, Game 1 win, Wainwright began warming up behind him. During the regular season, Matheny rarely has another pitcher throwing in the bullpen when Rosenthal takes the mound. He has explained the lack of protection as a sign of confidence in his second-year closer. So why was Friday different?
"That had a couple points to it," Matheny explained. "One of those points is getting Adam up and hot and his heart beating, and I think part of it's also telling him what we think of him and how we may use him. And then the third part … when Trevor comes into a game, there is usually not a whole lot of room to be off kilter, and he's been able to right it normally when it would start to go wrong. But in these kinds of games, we want to make sure that we're covered to bring somebody in, and we know that Adam Wainwright can perform in those situations, and we like him against anybody."
Even after Rosenthal stranded two with a strikeout of Kris Bryant, Matheny declined to speculate how many more batters Rosenthal would have faced before Wainwright would have been summoned. Rosenthal needed 21 pitches to get through the non-save appearance.
Although the Cardinals don't have plans to replace Rosenthal, who saved a franchise record 48 games during the season, as closer, the club is clearly unhesitant to throw Wainwright into critical spots.
Wainwright made three relief appearances during the final week of the regular season, though none came in high-leverage situations. That will change in October, as the Cardinals see him as a versatile option who will be unfazed by any stage.
"There is no position you can put me in on the mound that I haven't been through," said Wainwright, whose last postseason relief appearance came during the Cardinals' 2006 World Series run. "At some point in time, whether I'm young or I'm old, I've done it, and it helps me. I've been there. I can draw on those moments. I don't get nervous as a pitcher. It's very rare that I get nervous.
"But Trevor had it last night. I was just playing catch. I knew he had it under control."
Rosenthal's appearance on Friday was his first since Sept. 28, so there was also concern about the potential that he'd be dealing with some rust.
"You never know, and that's why we were trying to be prepared down in the 'pen," Matheny said. "How many times has he gone this season with that much rest? So we don't have any kind of protocol to know what we're going to get from him. But I thought his stuff looked good. He had nice, easy life."