ST. LOUIS — Rosters turn over so quickly these days, the St. Louis Cardinals used only seven players from their 2011 World Series roster in this year’s NL championship series.
The NL champions got contributions from 20 rookies this season, many in starring roles on a team that led the NL with 97 wins and then reached the World Series for the second time in three years.
General manager John Mozeliak sees little commonalities, pointing out the ’11 team sneaked into the postseason as the second wild card and this year’s team that until now has had the home-field advantage.
“The good story line is you’ve got two teams that have the best records in the game matching up in the World Series,” Mozeliak said. “And I think that’s nice. A lot of times, that doesn’t work out.”
Lance Lynn is the only pitcher left from two years ago, joined against the Dodgers by position players Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Matt Holliday and Jon Jay. Cleanup man Allen Craig, sidelined by a foot injury since early September, is expected to join them in the Series and would open as the DH.
The first time Craig would have to play first base is Game 3 Friday in St. Louis, and everyone’s optimistic especially given those extra rehab days. Craig’s .454 average with runners in scoring position led the majors, and aside from the Cardinals’ clinching 9-0 rout of the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, the offense has struggled without him.
“He could be the difference,” Molina said. “I’m happy to have him back.”
When the Cardinals were swept by Boston in the 2004 Series, Michael Wacha and Trevor Rosenthal were in middle school.
Wacha was a first-round selection in June 2012 — the Cardinals’ compensation pick for losing Albert Pujols to the Angels in free agency — scaled the system quickly and has been phenomenal in the postseason at 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA. He’s been to Fenway Park once before, as a sophomore at Texas A&M playing for a college all-star team but didn’t play.