St. Louis Cardinals’ skipper Mike Shildt talked in his pre-NLCS press conference on Thursday about playing the Washington Nationals last month, and how that familiarity affected things in terms of preparation for the National League Championship Series coming off their NLDS matchup with Atlanta Braves, a team they hadn’t played in four and a half months.
“Just a little more freshness to it,” Shildt said.
“We were still aware of it, obviously, but you go four and a half months without playing somebody, you want to make sure you’re revisiting what is going on and what they’re doing and how they’re currently playing and anything adjusted. But there’s a little more familiarity having just played these guys, but we’ll still do our homework and make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.
Shildt’s club took 2 of 3 in that series and 5 of 7 overall from the Nationals in 2019.
What did he learn about the Nationals in those games, and how does he plan to counter the alternating left and right-handed bats at the top of Washington’s lineup?
“That’s a good lineup,” Shildt said.
“They’re there for a reason. It is a staggered lineup. We have had similar lineups we faced recently. If you look at Chicago, they run a very staggered lineup there at you with switch hitters and right and left. You even look at the Braves’ lineup, it was fairly staggered and you know that there’s going to be, even if they run a couple lefties, there’s a spot where they are probably going to think about hitting for a guy, so you got to pick that matchup as well.”
“Everybody’s got a game plan for how we’re going to attack them,” the second-year skipper said.
“It’s our job as a staff, and my job to put guys in the best position possible relative to all the moving parts of the game and what’s going to happen as the game moves forward. But it’s just about giving us the best opportunity to compete and then letting the guys go play.”
Shildt decided to go with right-hander Miles Mikolas in Game 1 of the NLCS, after the Cards’ 31-year-old starter gave up three hits and one run in five innings of work in the opener with the Braves in the Division Series then came back and tossed a scoreless inning in relief in a 5-4 win in Game 4. Shildt said he liked what he’s seen from Mikolas on the mound.
“I love the conviction of how Miles has competed,” he explained, “where pitch to pitch he’s just throttled down and looking to execute that next pitch, staying in the moment. I really enjoyed his competition and how he’s been able to execute his pitches.”
Mikolas, who faced the Nationals twice in the regular season, going (1-1) with a 3.00 ERA and a .306/.340/.469 line against in 12 IP in those outings, talked yesterday about going against Washington again after the second of the two outings back on September 17th.
“It’s nice to have them fresh in your mind,” he said. “And when you go back and looking at video, not going to have to dig too deep to find my last start, which is nice. As far as how hitters’ tendencies change, I don’t know if they had a whole lot of time for their tendencies to change too much in the last three weeks going into the playoffs, so it might make it a little bit easier. Their pitchers will be in the same boat as far as scouting our hitters, so it will be interesting to see how we attack each other.”