Here's how Cards' NLCS rotation could stack up

October 10th, 2019

ATLANTA -- The Cardinals will spend Wednesday night celebrating their 13-1 victory over the Braves to advance to their first National League Championship Series since 2014.

But they were clear after the suds settled: Their second champagne celebration of this season is not going to be their last. So when Thursday rolls around, preparations to face the Nationals -- who bested the Dodgers in Game 5 -- will begin, and that includes the rotation.

The Cardinals have not announced any rotation or roster plans yet, but there are a few ways it could play out for the best-of-seven series. St. Louis will have home-field advantage against Washington, so Games 1 and 2 will be at Busch Stadium.

threw 104 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, even with the 12-run lead, so he can line up to pitch Game 3 on Monday and Game 7, if necessary.

For Game 1 on Friday, the Cardinals likely will go with or .

Mikolas started Game 1 of the NLDS and gave up one run in five innings, and he came out of the bullpen to pitch the 10th in Game 4. Wainwright delivered a vintage performance in Game 3 against the Braves with 7 2/3 scoreless innings and eight strikeouts. Whether it’s Mikolas or Wainwright, whoever doesn’t start Game 1 on Friday would likely start Game 2 on Saturday with Flaherty lined up for Game 3.

With home-field advantage in the series secured, the Cardinals could turn to Wainwright in Games 2 and 6, if necessary, which would both be at Busch Stadium, where he had a 2.56 ERA in the regular season.

The Cardinals have a few options for the fourth starter. allowed four runs (only one of them earned) against the Braves on Monday, and if he is lined up to start Game 4, that would make him available to come out of the bullpen in Games 1 and 2.

There’s also , who wasn’t on the NLDS roster with a right shoulder strain that he suffered during the last week of the regular season. He has thrown bullpen sessions for the last three days, and he said Tuesday that he believes he’ll be ready for the NLCS.

“Just a matter of how I bounce back,” Wacha said. “But everything has been feeling really good and going in the right direction.”

Wacha could make a start, or he could be available out of the bullpen. He appeared in five games (12 2/3 innings) out of the bullpen this year with a 5.68 ERA. Although he struggled at the beginning of the year, Wacha was much better in the final two months of the season with a 3.95 ERA since Aug. 1.