ST. LOUIS -- Planning to watch Saturday's National League Division Series game from the home dugout, Lance Lynn found himself as an unexpected option out of the bullpen as the Cardinals scrambled to build a backup plan after finding out that Jaime Garcia wasn't feeling well just before he was to begin his pregame warmups.
Lynn, already tabbed as the Cardinals' Game 4 starter, began to ready for a potential Game 2 appearance about 30 minutes before first pitch. He was sent to the bullpen before the game and then called to start warming up in the second inning. Lynn went on to pitch the third in what ended up a 6-3 loss to the Cubs.
He described the 24-pitch inning as an ideal tuneup for a start at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. But manager Mike Matheny didn't dismiss the possibility that those Game 4 starting pitching plans could change.
"I think right now we have options," said Matheny when asked after the game if Lynn was to remain his Game 4 starter. "We haven't used Tyler [Lyons], haven't shown him, and Lance is certainly the guy that we have kind of penciled for that [start] so far. And anything he did today didn't hurt his chances of doing that as far as health-wise."
It wasn't exactly resounding affirmation that Lynn would start what could be an elimination game for one of the two teams. If the Cardinals were to turn elsewhere, they do have some options.
Lyons, who did not pitch out of the bullpen in either of the first two NLDS games, is stretched out after throwing 81 pitches over seven shutout innings on Sept. 30. Calling on John Lackey, after his efficient 86-pitch performance in Game 1, could also be enticing.
That would require Lackey pitching on short rest, something he hasn't done since 2005. Not counting some occasional appearances out of the 'pen, Lackey has pitched on three days' rest between starts four times. He's 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in those four games, two of which came in the postseason.
In the 2002 World Series, Lackey was the winning pitcher after coming back on short rest in Game 7. He allowed one run in that game, as he did in a 2005 American League Division Series start against the Yankees on three days' rest.
Asked about Lackey as an option, Matheny dodged specifics.
"I don't think we rule out anything," he said. "But my usual answer [is] we [have] a game in between that we're mostly focused on right now, so we go out and play. Then we'll figure things out when we get to that point."
Adam Wainwright seems an unlikely candidate to be summoned to start, as he guessed he could probably go no deeper than three innings at this point.
As for Lynn, he compared his one-inning appearance on Saturday to the side session he otherwise would have thrown to prepare for Tuesday's start. A leadoff walk led to a run, though Lynn also struck out two in the frame.
"It would have been 12 days in between starts," said Lynn, whose last regular-season outing came on Oct. 3. "So I'm kind of glad to get out there, actually. It was good."