Matheny goes with rookie Shelby Miller to replace injured Garcia

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced Tuesday that right-hander Jaime Garcia has been removed from the postseason roster due to a right rotator cuff strain with some inflammation.

The Cardinals and Nationals were in Washington on Tuesday and completed scheduled workouts at Nationals Park. The National League Division Series is even at one game apiece, with Game 3 scheduled to begin a 1:07 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Matheny said Garcia will get a second opinion on the shoulder. The injury was discovered on a MRI taken Monday. Garcia lasted two innings in Game 2, allowing one run on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Rookie right-hander Shelby Miller will replace Garcia on the roster, Matheny announced. Miller is the organization’s top pitching prospect, and won his first start, 1-0 over the Reds, in the regular season finale.

Matheny said they are not worried about the bright lights of the game’s biggest stage affecting the rookie.

“I think we’ve seen enough of him to be excited about the opportunity for him to get on the mound; and as he progresses in his career, I’m not all that concerned,” Matheny said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the pressure we put on these guys down the stretch. Every game to us was a playoff style intensity where it seemed like every game, everything was on the line.”

Miller went 5 2/3 innings without allowing a hit against Cincinnati on Oct. 3. He then gave up a bloop single to Wilson Valdez but finished the inning, walking two with seven strikeouts and no runs. Miller also made five other appearances dating back to Sept. 5, accumulating a 1.32 ERA in 13 2/3 innings, surrendering just two earned runs, striking out 16 and walking four.

With only one left-hander in the bullpen, there was some speculation that Matheny would decide on replacing Garcia with southpaw Sam Freeman. Marc Rzepczynski is the only lefty out of the bullpen available to the Cards.

But Matheny said the ballclub felt it wanted the insurance of a pitcher who could start or at least eat up a good chunk of innings if called upon later in the series.

“The decision ... came down to the end was (possibly) to bring back a Sam Freeman,” Matheny said. “But with this roster against the Nationals, felt like we have more of a need with potentially a pitcher that could go a long ways, especially after we just took Lance Lynn out by him throwing the amount pitches that he threw yesterday.

“We would need multiple innings and we would need a guy who has worked up to that, and that would be Shelby at this time.”

And that brings Matheny to Lynn. The 18-game winner has appeared in both games of the Division Series. His work to really save Game 2 bailed the Cardinals and Matheny out of a tough jam. Lynn went three innings and kept the Nationals off the scoreboard until the fifth and the solo shots from Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche.

Matheny said they now must monitor Lynn for the rest of the series and have not decided if he will pitch the next few games, or when.

“We are going to have to keep a close eye on him,” Matheny noted. “He didn’t get up to the real high pitch count, but he’s also thrown a couple other days, he threw the day in Atlanta, threw the first game in the series in Washington, low pitch count but still got hot.

“We are kind of in uncharted territory because of the frequency he’s thrown and the elevated pitch count yesterday. We’ll have to see how he feels tomorrow and kind of take things from there. I don’t rule out having him available later.”

So on his 22nd birthday, Oct. 10, Miller will be active in his first ever postseason with the Cardinals.

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