ST. LOUIS -- Since Adam Wainwright tossed seven innings last Monday, only one Cardinals starter has pitched into the seventh, when Lance Lynn reached 6 2/3 innings Friday.
Shelby Miller lasted just two pitches before he took a line drive off his elbow Wednesday, and Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha only got to the fifth, putting additional strain on the Cardinals' bullpen.
"You look at the success we've been able to have at times, consistent winning, it starts with consistent starting pitching," manager Mike Matheny said. "When that happens we've got a good opportunity. But we said this early on, too, when our starting pitching was getting so much attention. We knew the times were going to come when it just wasn't going to be as easy, it wasn't going to be night after night of these quality starts.
"There's times you just got to fight your way through, and right now we're fighting and our bullpen is going to have to fight right along with the starters."
Matheny said heading into the finale with the Cubs that there were certain players in the 'pen that likely wouldn't be available to pitch Sunday. The Cardinals are currently operating with 13 pitchers on the roster, one more than usual, sacrificing a fifth bench player for the pitching help.
"Well evaluate it at the end of the day, but we've got some guys that are pretty beat up right now," Matheny said. "We need the pitching. We could use the extra guy on the bench, no question, but right now we need the extra pitching."
Rotation plans set, but Wacha's role still in limbo
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Matheny announced Sunday that Shelby Miller will start Wednesday against Pittsburgh and Lance Lynn will follow on Thursday. Adam Wainwright is pegged to start the series opener Tuesday.
For now, Matheny said rookie Michael Wacha's role is in limbo, although it's likely the right-hander will shift into the bullpen for the immediate future. Wacha's locker in the clubhouse was moved from its spot next to Wainwright to further down the row among the relievers.
Wacha made 11 relief appearances in the Minors last year, pitching in the Gulf Coast League, the Florida State League and with Double-A Springfield, which was mostly an effort to limit his innings as he was fresh off his last season at Texas A&M.
"Anything to stay up here, that's what I'm looking for," Wacha said. "Everything felt good when I was in the 'pen last year, but I guess we'll see."
Matheny said Friday that the Cardinals do not intend to move forward with a six-man rotation, in which Wacha would be the sixth starter. He said Sunday that the focus now is just getting the 22-year-old righty rested after his fourth big league start.
"He's going to recover from his start yesterday, and we'll just kind of keep moving forward," Matheny said.
• Wainwright is still looking to fill 10 more spots in his fantasy football charity initiative. Wainwright is recruiting fantasy players to compete with one of four Cardinals -- Wainwright, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Allen Craig -- in four 12-team leagues. The entrance fee is $2,500 per person with all proceeds going toward two charities: Operation Food Search out of St. Louis and Water Missions International.
"It's an idea I've been running around for the last five years, talking about it in BP with guys and something that I just felt led to do," said Wainwright, who has been in three fantasy football leagues each year since 2003. "Just something that people around the world need help. I love helping those people. I love finding ways to do that, and people around the world love fantasy football so it seems like a perfect match."
For more information or to register for one of the leagues, visit wainosworld.com.
• After Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Cubs, Chicago second baseman Darwin Barney said he's more excited for games against the Cardinals and the opportunity to play spoilers to a rival in the playoff hunt.
"I think the statement we made by how we played early on put a target on us for a lot of teams," Matheny said. "We got to realize that nobody is going to half-step when they come rolling in here or we go in to visit them. We know we're going to get their best effort, we're going to get their best excitement. We've been getting great draw so there's excitement in the stands whenever, and those are all compliments to the kind of caliber team we are."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.