i've only had a chance to look at the first four innings of last night's game, but from what i saw mulder didn't do much different last night from what he did against the cubs; he simply pitched at night and at home, which combination of factors apparently exerts a heavier gravitational pull on the ball. . . . or something. as danup says today, just go with it. there's no explaining this pitcher.
his splits -- night era 1.96, day 7.57; home era 2.77, road 5.09 -- are so dramatic that they may dictate the playoff rotation. above all else, mulder must not pitch a day game on the road -- his era is 11.63 in five day-road starts, and he has yielded 6 or more runs in four of the five outings. so in round one (and yes we are getting waaaaay ahead of ourselves, but -- danup's mantra again -- just go with it), the logical start for mulder would be game 2 -- you want carp in game 1, so he can be available for game 5 (if nec), and games 3 and 4 are on the road. but what if game 2 is a day game? mulder's line in busch daylight reads 1-2 with a 4.91 era, but four of his five starts have been terrible ones; the fifth was that 10-inning shutout against the astros. so if game 2's a day game, it would make more sense to hold mark for a road start under the lights, in which circumstances he has a 2.48 era. . . . but wait. you don't want to hold mulder for game 4, because then he wouldn't be available until game 3 of the nlcs, and games 3 4 and 5 are on the road; we need mulder available for game 2 of the nlcs at the latest. so the only "safe" games for mulder in round 1 would be games 2 and 3. pray that fox wants at least one of them played at night.
now consider this nlcs scenario. the best case would be to start him in games 2 and 6, both of which are at home. but under one of the two standard lcs schedules, game 2 is played on wednesday afternoon; if the cards draw that sched, it would probably behoove the cards to start mark in game 1 -- except that would put him in line for a road start in game 5, which might be a day game (depending on which matchup fox wants to hold for prime time). what then -- start mulder in games 1 and 6? if so, the cards will have to go with a five-man rotation, something like:
game 1: mulder
game 2: carp
game 3: morris
game 4: marquis
game 5: suppan
game 6: mulder
game 7: carp
except if there's a game 6, and carp is rested and ready (he'd be on five days' rest because of the two off days), it would make more sense to pitch him in game 6, even if the cards are up 3 game to 2. why? because if he has to pitch a game 7 (which under this scenario would be on wednesday night), then he wouldn't be available until game 3 of the world series. whereas if he pitches game 6 of the nlcs (tuesday), he's available for game 2 of the world series. game 7, if nec, would be "safe" for mulder -- at home, at night -- but under the rotation outlined above, matt morris would also be available for game 7, and if he gets himself straightened out i'd probably rather take my chances with him.
what a mess. fox's programming personnel may hold the key to the cards' postseason fortunes . . . .
by now you've read the bad news about rolen. panic will get us nowhere, so let's not do that. but let's also not kid ourselves: scotty's absence will substantially diminish stl's postseason outlook. i need not list the reasons; they are obvious. walt and tony and the boys will make brave statements, and there will be truth to them -- these cardinals probably can withstand the loss of a hall-of-famer from the lineup. but let's not pretend his absence won't be a factor. come october, the margin for error is thin in the best of circumstances; without rolen, the cards' will be that much thinner.