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Phillies vs Cardinals Game 2 starting lineups and pitching matchup

ST. LOUIS — When choosing his starting rotation for the Wild Card Series, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol knew immediately that he wanted Miles Mikolas in position to start Game 2.

His reasoning? Marmol is confident Mikolas has the right mentality to pitch in an elimination game.

Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson had a similar line of thinking in slotting Aaron Nola into Game 2, with the righty coming off one of the best performances of his career to get the Phillies into the postseason.

After Philadelphia rallied for six ninth-inning runs to take Game 1, 6-3, on Friday, the Phillies will be in close-out mode at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Philadelphia is in the postseason for the first time since dropping the National League Division Series in five games to the Cardinals in 2011. St. Louis will be looking to avoid losing in the first round of the playoffs for a third straight season by forcing a winner-take-all Game 3 on Sunday.

History, though, isn’t in their favor. MLB has only a limited history of best-of-three playoff series, but the expanded postseason in 2020 did give us eight such matchups. Six of the eight teams to win Game 1 in those series advanced. All six of those were two-game sweeps.

If there’s a silver lining for the Cardinals, it’s this: The two teams that evened things up in Game 2 (A’s vs. White Sox and Padres vs. Cardinals) then won Game 3 as well.

Here are some things to watch out for in Saturday’s Game 2 from Busch Stadium:

When is the game and how can I watch it?

Game 2 of the best-of-three Wild Card Series is Saturday at 8:37 p.m. ET/7:37 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

All series are available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are not available live internationally (archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends).

What might the starting lineups look like?

Phillies: Bryce Harper could slide back into the No. 3 spot after hitting cleanup against a lefty in Game 1. Brandon Marsh should return to the lineup in center field with a right-hander in Mikolas on the mound.

Cardinals: Juan Yepez, who hit the first go-ahead pinch-hit homer in Cardinals postseason history in Game 1, likely did enough to earn a start against Nola. In an effort to get more hitting into the lineup, the Cardinals might slide Lars Nootbaar to center field in place of Dylan Carlson and start Corey Dickerson and Yepez at the two corner outfield spots. St. Louis also desperately needs production from leading MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, who went 0-for-3 Friday to continue his late-season slide.

Who are the starting pitchers?

Phillies: Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA) will make the first postseason start of his career. He has made 203 career regular-season starts, second most among active pitchers without a postseason appearance. Nola is coming off one of his best outings of the season, beginning with 6 2/3 perfect innings on Monday in Houston, when the Phillies clinched the third NL Wild Card.

Cardinals: Mikolas (12-13, 3.29 ERA) doesn’t have a flashy record, but he has been arguably the Cardinals’ best pitcher from start to finish. The right-hander reached his goal of 200 innings by throwing a career-best 202 1/3 innings, and he was among the NL leaders in ERA for most of the season.

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?

Phillies: Thomson said it’s all systems go for his bullpen in the postseason, meaning he will not hesitate to use his best relievers on consecutive days. It’s a potential series clincher, so why wouldn’t he? It would not be a surprise to see right-handers Zach Eflin and David Robertson and left-hander José Alvarado used again, if needed.

Cardinals: In putting each of the club’s top five starting pitchers on the roster for the best-of-three series, the Cardinals guaranteed that Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery would be available out of the bullpen throughout the series. That could come in handy after closer Ryan Helsley left with an injured finger and relievers Jordan Hicks, Giovanny Gallegos and Andre Pallante were heavily taxed with high-leverage work in Game 1. Flaherty and Montgomery were up in the bullpen and throwing at various times on Friday and will be available again on Saturday. The 41-year-old Wainwright will likely be saved to start Game 3 on Sunday, if necessary.

Phillies: The Phillies came out of Game 1 healthy.

Cardinals: The Cardinals are likely to be without Helsley, who exited Friday’s game feeling numbness in the right middle finger he jammed earlier in the week. Whether he’d be available for a potential Game 3 will be determined after the Cardinals’ medical team reviews the MRI conducted on Helsley’s finger following the Game 1. Helsley was close to automatic throughout the regular season while going 9-1 with a 1.25 ERA and converting 19 of 23 save chances.

Tyler O’Neill (left hamstring injury) was left off Cards’ roster for the Wild Card Series. He gave them a powerful bat at the plate, speed on the basepaths and Gold Glove defense in left field.

Who is hot and who is not?

Phillies: Nola has a 2.36 ERA in his past six starts. Harper has been struggling since he returned from the 60-day IL on Aug. 26. Harper hopes his ninth-inning walk gets him going. “Hopefully, the more I go, the more comfortable I get,” Harper said. “Everybody knows I’m not being myself right now. But each day I feel good. I feel better each day. I was able to keep it going. I just want to win. I don’t care what it takes. Right now, when we’re successful, I’m doing well also. Hopefully, that can happen as we go on.”

Cardinals: Goldschmidt looked to be the best player in the Majors over the season’s first five months while making a run at the Triple Crown. However, his production fell off dramatically over the final six weeks of the season. Goldschmidt struggled again on Friday, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch. Said Marmol of Goldschmidt: ”Goldy is one to tell you exactly how he’s feeling, and he’s very literal and he’s very honest. When he says, ‘I’m not feeling good,’ he means it. Right now, he’s saying, ‘I feel really good.’ So I am looking forward to these next [two] days.”

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