SAN DIEGO -- As of Wednesday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny maintained that despite Jaime Garcia's increasingly troublesome struggles on the road, the lefty is still scheduled to start Saturday against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.
According to Matheny, Garcia threw a bullpen session Wednesday, and all indications are that there is nothing physically wrong with the 26-year-old that might explain his poor track record in starts away from Busch Stadium. As a result, the team is working with Garcia to change aspects of his routine on the road to better mimic what he does at home in the hopes that it will help resolve his puzzling road record.
Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said the adjustments he and Garcia have been working on since Monday's three-inning, four-run showing at Petco Park are related more to the mental side of the game and Garcia's routine than on any mechanical issue, as there don't seem to be any glaring problems with Garcia's delivery.
"We just talked about carrying his home approach when he's on the road," Lilliquist said. "The emphasis is to work backward on your timing just like you do at home."
If Garcia can harness that routine ahead of Saturday's start, Cardinals fans have reason for optimism: He is 18-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 42 career home outings. If not, there remains cause for concern: He is just 13-12 with a 4.69 ERA in 44 career games away from Busch Stadium. Garcia has pitched just one game at Dodger Stadium in his career, a five-inning, eight-hit performance on April 14, 2011, in which he gave up two earned runs.
Lynn returns to rotation with improved mechanics
SAN DIEGO -- It's tough enough for a young starting pitcher to see himself dropped from the rotation five months into a campaign that was at one point so spectacular, it earned him an All-Star nod.
But the task now facing Lance Lynn is an even more daunting one for a 25-year-old in his first full Major League season. He must bounce back with his first start in two weeks, on the road, against the team breathing down the Cardinals' neck in the National League Wild Card standings, the high-powered Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I'm looking forward to facing a team like that in the situation we're going to be in," Lynn said. "I'm looking forward to it. Should be a good matchup, we're fighting with them right now. It's going to be a big series, and we need to get off to a good start. Hopefully I can do my job."
Lynn was removed from his spot in the St. Louis rotation on Aug. 24 after posting a 6.56 ERA in five August starts, a far cry from the 11-4 record and 3.41 ERA he owned when he made the NL All-Star Team. Two weeks removed from that difficult transition, Lynn said he's been able to learn from the experience.
"It's part of the game. There's ups and downs. I had a really good first half and then the month of August was really bad," Lynn said. "That's part of the learning process of this game. I just have to learn not to let it snowball like it did in the month of August. I think we fixed some things and learned some things through that time, so it should be better from here on out."
He's made six relief outings since losing his starting spot, most recently a scoreless inning against Milwaukee that manager Mike Matheny called "his best outing" since he was moved to the 'pen. During Lynn's time as a reliever, he was able to tinker with some things he said got out of whack during those August struggles.
"We've just been trying to make things simpler in my windup and things like that. A lot of things were just kind of off -- little timing things -- could've been due to any reason," Lynn said. "It was one of those things where I had to try to simplify things and just try to execute pitches."
That's what Lynn will try to do Thursday, though over a much longer outing than he has seen the past two weeks. While he hasn't been able to test his adjustments over more than an inning or two at a time, he says that lightened work load may be a very good thing.
"I feel like my last couple times out of the bullpen I got some things fixed, so I'm looking forward to being able to use those over the whole course of a game instead of just one inning," Lynn said. "I'm sure that I'll be [pitch deep into the game] like I was when I was starting. It's only been two weeks or so, so it's been kind of more of a rest than anything. I'm actually feeling fresher than I had before."
Mired in slump, Beltran doesn't start finale
SAN DIEGO -- Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran pinch-hit in Wednesday's series finale against the Padres on what manager Mike Matheny said was a mental and physical break for the 35-year-old.
"It's both. Just giving him a day here," Matheny said.
The Cardinals sat the slumping Beltran a couple of times this weekend due struggles that have seen the star hit just .209 since June 25. He's battled injury, including pain in his left knee and a problem with his left hand, things Matheny says are undoubtedly a part of the recent skid by the man who led the National League in RBIs at the All-Star break.
"He claims physically he feels pretty good -- that's all relative to this time of the year," Matheny said. "There were a couple periods of time where he wasn't feeling as good -- right in the middle of what he's got going on right now -- I don't think he'd every deny that was an impact."
The impact was a large one, as Beltran was hitting .313 on June 25 and, more recently, has gone 5-for-34 in his last 10 games.
"I see a lot of things that I remember: how hard this game is. How hard it is to hit and keep that good thing going," Matheny said of Beltran's plate appearances. "In the first half, he was on a great roll, but when it leaves you, it's difficult to get back. He's working, fighting."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.