Rain provides relief: Cardinals get a reset on rotation, rest for bullpen as weather postpones finale vs. Pirates | Cardinal Beat

The Cardinals’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates has been postponed due to inclement weather expected in the area. The game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on June 14 at Busch Stadium. The first game will be at 12:15 p.m. St. Louis time, and the night game will be 6:45 p.m. They will be nine inning games.

The rainout allows the Cardinals to completely revamp their pitching plans for the coming week and stash Jordan Hicks in the bullpen for a day.

Hicks, who was set to make his debut as a starter Tuesday night vs. Kansas City, will instead be in the bullpen for that game. Dakota Hudson will start Tuesday and throw to catcher Andrew Knizner. On Wednesday, Adam Wainwright will start as scheduled and throw to Yadier Molina for their 306th start together.

Hicks’ debut as a starter then will come Sunday in Milwaukee.

From earlier, setting the stage for a game that was postponed … 

The plan the Cardinals described all spring for how they intend to use the designated hitter and line up the choice with the handedness of the opposing pitcher has become clear quickly.

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For the finale of the season-opening series, the Cardinals turn to second-year outfielder Lars Nootbaar as the designated hitter.

In four games, the Cardinals have utilized three different DHs, starting with Albert Pujols’ grand return for opening day and following with two consecutive starts by left-handed hitter Corey Dickerson. Nootbaar, a left-handed hitter, gets his first start of the season against Pittsburgh right-hander Zach Thompson.

The Cardinals are taking into account the style of pitcher when making that choice: a high-velocity right-hander invites Nootbaar’s swing to greet him, and a low-ball right-hander like the sinkerballer the Bucs started Sunday got Dickerson at the plate as the Cardinals’ DH.

Pujols, with one start in the first home stand of the season, will be the Cardinals’ primary DH against left-handed pitchers, and he’s likely to be a pinch-hitter whenever that lefty appears from the bullpen and that spot is up in the order.

The right-handers he gets starts against are more likely to be the finesse right-handers than the ones Nootbaar will be assigned.

All of this prelude to the fact that thunderstorms and persistent rain are forecast for the St. Louis area. As players arrive to the ballpark Monday morning, the tarp is on the field, batting practice is scheduled for indoors, and Pittsburgh has little interest in waiting around all day to play a game.

The Monday finale to the four-game set was originally a night-game, but with the lockout lopping off the first week of the season, Pittsburgh’s game this Tuesday became the unexpected home opener. The Pirates nudged the start time to afternoon and the Cardinals obliged their division foe by doing the same for the Monday game to give the Bucs more time to travel.

Pittsburgh has two more visits to St. Louis this season, including the final series of the regular season at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals might also benefit from the break. Abbreviated starts by Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz in the first three games of the season have come at a time when the Cardinals know they have a short start coming Tuesday. That puts a heavy onus on right-hander Dakota Hudson as he returns to the rotation. Drew VerHagen has been held back to provide innings in relief of Jordan Hicks on Tuesday, and the hope is they don’t head to Milwaukee for a four-game series with Mikolas and Matz scheduled to pitch and a cascade of innings piled upon the bullpen.

The weight of that can be costly in a log series, even with an expanded roster.

Oliver Marmol returned to the team and was cleared to manage the game after missing two days recovering from the flu.

This is the lineup that the Cardinals will use, weather permitting.

Check back throughout the day here at C-Beat for updates on the weather and any news that’s fit to blog from the pregame access. There will be complete coverage from Rick Hummel and the StlToday.com team in the pages of the Post-Dispatch.

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