ST. LOUIS -- Keep your poker face and don't peek under the "Cards," but St. Louis' pitching staff has a couple of aces up its sleeve entering the high-stakes World Series.
As in veteran Chris Carpenter and erstwhile -- and versatile -- starter Danny Haren.
They're the Redbirds' wild cards in the Fall Classic and may well be red herrings to the Boston Red Sox hitters, although Carpenter's status is still under discussion, and Haren is a possible spot starter.
With their dispatching of the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series in seven games -- they took the finale, 5-2, at Busch Stadium on Thursday -- the Cardinals' next order of business is setting the rotation.
St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan said 38-year-old Woody Williams is the go-to guy for Saturday's Game 1 at Fenway Park after pitching spectacularly during the NLCS.
The rest of the pitching order is under discussion.
"We have an idea," said Duncan of the Series matchups. "Williams, I would say, is more than likely the opening-game starter. Carpenter is healthy and throwing the ball good, but we have to discuss whether he'll be included on the list."
The 29-year-old Carpenter had a brilliant campaign with a 15-5 record and 3.46 ERA, but he strained his right biceps on Sept. 18 against Arizona, which eliminated him from the NLDS and NLCS.
Is long relief a possibility?
"He hasn't faced a hitter in a month," said Duncan. "As for Haren, he'll be ready."
Youngest on the staff, at 24, Haren has been both a starter and reliever. Over 14 games in 2004, the Cards right-hander started five games and was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA overall. In Game 3 in Houston, he pitched a scoreless seventh inning, but yielded a leadoff homer to Carlos Beltran in the ninth inning of the Astros' 5-2 victory.
Williams has been the Cardinals' best starter in the postseason (1-0, 2.77 ERA over 13 innings), and the right-hander showed it in Game 5 at Houston, when he dueled Brandon Backe through seven scoreless frames, giving up only one hit.
Williams was solid, but not spectacular, in Game 1, allowing four hits and four runs -- including two homers -- over six innings, but St. Louis rallied to win, 10-7.
With the rotation still iffy entering Friday's off day, here are the other probable starters:
Jason Marquis / P
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
Possible Game 2 starter: Jason Marquis
Power-plus is this man's game. He can throw heat up to 96 mph and couples that with a nasty hard slider and decent changeup.
The right-hander had trouble in Game 4 of the NLCS, giving up five hits and three runs in only four innings, although the bullpen gave up the game-winning blows in a 6-5 defeat.
Possible Game 3 starter: Matt Morris
The 30-year-old right-hander Morris didn't have a decision in two NLCS starts. He lasted five innings in Game 2, giving up solo homers to Beltran and Morgan Ensberg, plus another run in the Cardinals' 6-4 win in Busch Stadium.
In Game 6, he lasted five innings and allowed three runs, but St. Louis eventually pulled it out in 12 innings, 6-4.
Possible Game 4 starter: Jeff Suppan
The right-hander pitched twice against the Astros in the NLCS, including the Game 7 victory at Busch Stadium, where he allowed a solo homer to leadoff batter Craig Biggio and an unearned run in the third on a throwing error.
Duncan was highly impressed with the crucial, final test, and Suppan delivered.
"My best feeling is about Suppan," said Duncan. "What he has done in the postseason, having never pitched there before, it was phenomenal. He came out and got the results. I have the utmost respect for him."
In Game 3, Suppan was rocky in the first inning, giving up three runs, including a two-run homer by Jeff Kent. Then he settled down to throw five straight shutout frames, but the damage had already been done as he took the loss, 5-2.
Suppan was super in Game 7, holding the hot-hitting Astros to three hits and two runs over six innings, setting it up for perfect relief over the final three frames.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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