At the beginning of a two-hour workout for the NL Central champions on Tuesday, manager Mike Matheny said he was not ready to announce the rest of his playoff rotation or his roster, or even whether he would carry 11 or 12 pitchers. Matheny said he likely will reveal the roster after a workout Thursday.
"I know it's a hot topic," Matheny said. "I think everybody who follows this team closely realizes there's a lot of decisions that need to be made."
The biggest involves All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, who has worn a brace protecting the strained ligament in his left thumb during practice in recent days. The Cardinals are optimistic Molina, injured on a tag play at the plate on Sept. 20, can play.
Matheny said Molina caught, blocked balls in the dirt and threw Tuesday, mostly in an indoor batting cage. Molina worked out with the rest of the team Wednesday.
"All those things are pointing in the direction that it's possible," Matheny said, adding the biggest worry is handling foul tips.
Overall, there are far more difficult decisions to be made than usual. Spots for veterans Matt Adams and Jon Jay, both coming off injuries, could be in jeopardy given the emergence of rookies Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham.
In the bullpen, ace Adam Wainwright is expected to claim a spot after making a rapid recovery from a torn Achilles in late April.
"I know people say that's a great problem to have," Matheny said.
General manager John Mozeliak said experience is factor, but added everyone has to make a debut sometime.
"I think we can triangulate the roster if we ask enough questions," Mozeliak said. "I think we have a lot of good options."
Randal Grichuk can throw nearly 200 feet following an elbow injury and could start in right field. Mark Reynolds, who has started at first base and third base, said he was on the roster, and seldom-used outfielder Peter Bourjos said he was not.
The 36-year-old Lackey went 9-4 with a 1.93 ERA in 17 starts at home. Overall, he was 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA -- the first sub 3.00 ERA of his big career.
The Cardinals needed a veteran leader when Wainwright tore his left Achilles in late April, and Lackey was that guy. Plus, he has plenty of postseason experience, including a World Series victory over St. Louis in 2013 when he was with Boston.
"I think he's been as consistent as anybody in the league," Matheny said. "There's so many different things he has brought to this club that makes it to us a pretty obvious choice."
Matheny has Jaime Garcia (10-6, 2.43), Lance Lynn (12-11, 3.03) and Michael Wacha (17-7, 3.38) for Games 2, 3 and 4, in some order. Wacha could be pushed back after going 2/3 with a 7.88 ERA in five September starts.