If there is a Game 3 of the National League Championship Series tonight in St. Louis — the weather forecast shows a 55 percent chance of rain at first pitch — Nyjer Morgan won’t be in the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting lineup.
For all the pregame buzz surrounding Nyjer Morgan’s first game in St. Louis since Sept. 7, when he touched off a near-brawl between the teams, Morgan was left out of Manager Ron Roenicke’s Game 3 lineup, replaced by veteran Mark Kotsay in center field and the No. 2 spot in the Brewers’ batting order.
Morgan and Carlos Gomez have been platooning in center field for the Brewers, with Morgan facing right-hander and Gomez starting against lefties. (The Cardinals’ starter tonight, Chris Carpenter, is a right-hander.) Kotsay has been on the roster all year as a reserve. But there is some logic to benching Morgan and starting Kotsay. For one thing, Morgan is in a major slump (3 for 20 in the postseason). But Kotsay started just three times in September and has had only six plate appearances this postseason, all of them as a pinch-hitter.
No Tony Plush at Busch Stadium? That would make Game 3 a little less interesting — but the Brewers aren’t looking for interesting right now. They’re looking for wins.
Meantime, if there is a rainout tonight, the obvious first question will involve the future pitching plans for Carpenter. He is scheduled to pitch tonight in Game 3, then again (on full, four days’ rest) in a possible Game 7 on Monday. However, if Game 3 is pushed back to Thursday, Carpenter would have only three days of rest for Game 7.
Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa has already addressed the hypothetical question, saying Carpenter would pitch Game 3 on short rest. However, if you’ll recall, the Cardinals started Carpenter on short rest in Game 2 of the Division Series in Philadelphia, and it didn’t work so well — Carpenter lasted only three innings (but the Cardinals came back and beat Cliff Lee to steal a crucial victory).