St. Louis will skip Matt Morris’ regular spot in the rotation on Saturday to give him some much-needed rest before the playoffs, so St. Louis manager Tony La Russa has scheduled several pitchers to work Saturday’s contest, starting with Ankiel.
The right-hander—who had four strikeouts in two nearly perfect innings against Arizona in a 3-2 defeat on Sunday—has tossed four scoreless innings, striking out five and walking just one, in his first major-league appearances since 2001.
While Ankiel was not expected to make a start in the last two weeks of the season because he probably doesn’t have sufficient arm strength—he underwent major reconstructive elbow surgery last year—he’s unlikely to pitch more than two innings.
He’s not only auditioning for a spot in next year’s rotation, but is hoping for a shot to make the postseason roster as a left-handed reliever.
While the Cardinals may be hesitant to include him in their playoff plans— the left-hander’s troubles began when he threw nine wild pitches in the 2000 playoffs—the club is pleased with what they’ve seen so far.
“We haven’t discussed (the postseason) yet,” pitching coach Dave Duncan said. ”(But) he’s thrown the ball good every time he’s pitched.”
St. Louis took the series opener 5-4 on Friday night. Albert Pujols homered and Edgar Renteria had three RBIs to lead the Cardinals. Larry Walker went 0-for-4 in his first game back in Denver since the Rockies traded him to St. Louis on Aug. 6.
The Rockies, who had their three-game winning streak snapped, will turn to Joe Kennedy, hoping he can continue his solid pitching of late. The veteran left-hander is 3-0 in his last four starts, and has allowed just one run in each of his last three.