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Loss of Garcia waters down Cardinals veteran edge

The loss of St. Louis lefty starter Jaime Garcia not only subtracts a guy who is 8-2 in his career against the Reds from a potential National League Championship match-up with Cincinnati.

It also subtracts a very valuable right-handed reliever from the Redbirds' decidedly young bullpen.

Lance Lynn, pressed into service for three very important innings of work Monday, will move to the starting rotation to replace Garcia. That's a good plug in for the rotation. But the bullpen loses a guy who was a key performer in the late innings from July 2011 through the World Series.

Lynn was basically the guy who dealt with any unexpected departures from the script. If the Birds needed to change things up during an opponents rally. He's a guy who isn't afraid to pitch with runners on base and a guy who can get a strikeout when it's desperately needed.

In his place goes rookie Shelby Miller. A guy who wasn't going to be allowed to pitch in any high leverage situations after his September call up is suddenly one of three rookies in the St. Louis bullpen. All three have nasty stuff. But all three are unrefined and there is no real way to know in advance how they'll react to a two on, two out situation in a one-run game.

That leaves the Cardinals with Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte and a bunch of question marks in the bullpen. Fernando Salas hasn't exactly been reliable lately. Marc Rzepczynski has been inconsistent all season and then you have the three kids, Miller, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal. 

it seems like whenever a team goes deep in the playoffs someone makes a major unexpected contribution. At least one of the three young righties is going to have to go from boy to man if the Birds are going to win it all this year.

Kelly seems the best prepared with several starts under his belt. But the problem is that he seems to allow a lot of baserunners, a trait that doesn't bode well for a high leverage reliever.