Lets say, just for a moment, that the Cardinals collapsed, fell out of first, but recovered enough to make the Wild Card Game. (Yes, I know it won’t happen. Humor me here.)
That leads to the question, which is the focus of this post: Who would start that game?
Do you go with the guy leading the team in wins in Michael Wacha? The guy with the best ERA among the four starters on our team who have more than 20 starts in Carlos Martinez? The playoff vet who is having a solid season of his own in John Lackey? the resurgent returnee was has a 1.57 ERA in Jaime Garcia? You could even make a case for Lance Lynn.
I realize opponent and where it’s played matter, but that isn’t what this question is about. The question is about trust. Which of these guys do you trust the most to pitch a game with the season on the line?
I’m a big Carlos Martinez fan, but given his intensity and the intensity of the WC game, the combination might be too much for him, right now anyways.
Lynn is good, but he’s having the “worst” season of the starters, so he’s out.
In my mind it comes down to the three left: Wacha, Garcia and Lackey. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.
Wacha has the most talent of the three, and the highest upside. He has roughly the same postseason experience, innings wise, as Garcia, So he’s a solid choice.
Garcia, however, is on fire right now, with only one earned run is his last three starts, and if he keeps that up, he might be a good candidate. He has been injure this year, as he seems to be every year, but right now he is healthy and pitching well.
Then there is Lackey, who is having a good season and had the most post-season innings pitched of any active Cardinal starter by far at 117. He is battle tested and wouldn’t give into the pressure the game would create.
If I had to choose, and remember there is no wrong answer here, I’d choose the pitcher who is the hottest going into the game. Right now that’s Jaime Garcia. I haven’t been the biggest Garcia fan in the past, but I can’t ignore what he’s doing this year. Things may change by the end of the season, but right now, Garcia is my choice.
As always, thanks for reading.