ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn was one more bad September start away from losing his job in the St. Louis Cardinals' starting rotation.
Now he's starting Game 4 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night, fresh off winning twice in the National League Championship Series to help St. Louis knock off the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.
Lynn won 33 games the past two seasons, but maintaining his consistency has been a problem. He fell out of the rotation last year, then went winless in eight starts from Aug. 9-Sept. 16, giving up numerous big innings.
General manager John Mozeliak wanted manager Mike Matheny to remove Lynn from the rotation after losing Sept. 5 in Cincinnati. But Matheny stuck with Lynn and his instincts proved correct when Lynn finished the year with four straight quality starts, winning the last two.
"Just part of the process of pitching," Lynn said of the ups and downs of his 2013 season. "You're going to have a lot of success early on until they figure you out. Then you'll have to learn, even though they know what you're doing, (that you) have to still know how to get them out."
Boston manager John Farrell is expecting Lynn's best game.
"The fact is he's in the starting rotation on a World Series team, and he's been a main contributor to this organization for a couple of years," Farrell said. "I'm sure (Lynn will) have a lot of adrenaline flowing."
With no designated hitter in the National League park, Farrell had to leave one of his big bats out of the lineup for Game 3. He sat first baseman Mike Napoli, opting to play designated hitter David Ortiz in the field.
While Napoli could be a late-game option as a pinch-hitter, Farrell is also comfortable using him as a defensive replacement. Most defensive metrics have Napoli rated as one of the top defensive first baseman in the game.
"He's a good athlete, but there's a lot of work put in there," Farrell said of Napoli. "The way he's worked around the bag, with a lot of throws in the dirt, he's saved a number of runs with that. We're ecstatic with the way this year has turned out for him defensively."
Ortiz only plays defense when the Red Sox compete under NL rules and is not considered a good defender. But the value of his bat -- he belted two-run homers in each of the first two games -- forces him into the field when the DH isn't part of the game.
NOTES: In a pregame press conference, St. Louis RF Carlos Beltran was named winner of the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award, which best exemplifies baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. He's the fourth Cardinal to win the award since it was first given out in 1971. ... Boston pitchers have one hit in 26 at-bats this year. It was by Jake Peavy, the Game 3 starter. Peavy was known as one of the NL's better-hitting pitchers during his seven years in San Diego. ... St. Louis C Yadier Molina is appearing in his fourth World Series, and the eighth by a member of the Molina family. That's third in MLB history behind only the DiMaggios (Joe and Dom, 11) and Meusels (Bob and Irish, 10).