Tony LaRussa has made himself a target for criticism by putting rookie Rick Ankiel on the mound for game one today instead of veteran Darryl Kile. But if you look closely at what LaRussa is trying to do, it’s a great move. Ankiel and Kile have easily been the Cardinals’ best pitchers over the last two months. If the series with Atlanta goes five games, LaRussa wants to use Ankiel and Kile twice each. That’s aggressive managing, giving your team its best chance to win, and I like that way of thinking. So why does he need to flip Ankiel to game one, and Kile to game two? Because by pitching today, Ankiel can get a full four days rest before pitching in game four on Sunday. After starting game two Thursday, Kile will come back on three days rest for game five on Monday. This way Ankiel’s 21-year old arm doesn’t get the unusual strain of short rest, and LaRussa only has to send a lesser starter to the mound once, for game three. And if the Cards win in four, Kile is ready to start game one of the next series. And that’s what I say will happen: Cards in four.
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