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A healthy Wainwright is the key to the Cardinals' NLCS hopes

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright is one of the toughest pitchers in the National League.

Not just tough on opposing hitters. But tough in that he never gives up. No matter the situation, he always wants the ball.

That's what has me a little bit nervous as Wainwright takes the mound for the opening game of the 2014 National League Championship Series Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

Wainwright has been having problems with his pitching elbow in the second half of the season. When he went through a slump after the all-star break he said he was fine. The results had something else to say.

In the opener of the National League Division Series Wainwright said he was fine. His elbow proved otherwise. It was only a miracle comeback against Clayton Kershaw that would have put the Birds in a big hole in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cardinals are taking their ace's word that he's going to be able to do his job now. And I hope it just isn't Wainwright trying to be macho when he says he's ready to play.

In a short series, the Redbirds can't afford to give the San Francisco Giants a head start out of the gate. And, by putting Wainwright in the number one slot in the rotation, it could further compromise the team later in the series if he isn't allowed to continue.

So let's hope Wainwright can be Wainwright tonight.