Cards increasingly rely on rookies out of bullpen

Cards increasingly rely on rookies out of bullpen

Cards increasingly rely on rookies out of bullpen
WASHINGTON -- The Cardinals have seemingly no issue thrusting three rookie relievers into the pressure cooker that is the National League Division Series. All things considered, they've been pitching in such situations for weeks now.

With the addition of Shelby Miller to the postseason roster -- in place of starter Jaime Garcia, who was shut down Tuesday with a left rotator cuff strain -- the Cardinals now have three rookies out of the bullpen in Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal.

"It's been nice," fellow reliever Mitchell Boggs said. "It's been impressive. They've been brought up this year and put into a playoff race and all three of them have pitched outstanding. It's exciting to see these guys come into this situation and thrive and know that we can run them out there in tough situations and none of them are gonna back down."

Rosenthal credits St. Louis' more prominent and experienced relievers like Boggs and closer Jason Motte for helping usher in the new trio, which has combined for a 6-9 record with a 3.20 ERA in 49 total appearances this season.

"I think we all just view it as a tremendous opportunity," said Rosenthal, who had a 2.78 ERA in 19 appearances in the regular season. "This is what we always dreamed of being able to do, being at this level and in the postseason. It's a great feeling for each one of us and to experience that together.

"We're all new to this, and to go through that ride together, to experience it, learn from each other and the other guys ... one day, all of three of us could be together and setting the example for some guys that are in the shoes that we are now."

Both Kelly, who was 5-7 with a 3.53 ERA in 24 appearances (16 starts) and Rosenthal logged important innings in St. Louis' Game 2 victory on Monday at Busch Stadium. Kelly threw a perfect sixth, while Rosenthal struck out three, while allowing one hit in a scoreless ninth.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the pressure we put on these guys down the stretch," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Every game to us was a playoff-style intensity, where it seemed like every game, everything was on the line. We weren't afraid to go to our young guys in high-leverage situations, so they have proven the fact that they are ready to pitch. Now it's just getting the repetitions."