10/13/11 1:32 AM ET
Wolf looks to take command vs. Cardinals
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"You have a bad game, it's definitely going to be heightened and it's going to be under a bigger magnifying glass [during the playoffs]," Wolf said. "But I feel the good thing that I've done this year, I've usually recovered and come back the next game and pitched well. I think that you have to have a short memory and you have to learn from it, and you can't beat yourself up over it too badly."
- 2011 regular season
- Overall: 33 GS, 13-10, 3.69 ERA, 66 BB, 134 K
- Overall: 30 GS, 14-8, 3.39 ERA, 42 BB, 111 K
- Key stat: Career-best 23 double-play balls (6th in NL)
- Key stat: Career-best 2.00 BB/9, fifth-fewest total walks in NL
- At Busch Stadium
- 2011 regular season: 3 GS, 2-1, 3.43 ERA
Career: 8 GS, 4-4, 3.50 ERA
- 2011 regular season: 14 GS, 6-5, 3.67 ERA
Career: 57 GS, 22-16, 3.73 ERA
- Against this opponent
- 2011 regular season: 5 GS, 3-2, 5.34 ERA
Career: 19 GS, 8-8, 3.91 ERA
- 2011 regular season: 3 GS, 1-2, 2.37 ERA
Career: 17 GS, 4-8, 4.80 ERA
- Loves to face: Lance Berkman, 3-for-32
Hates to face: David Freese, 6-for-17
- Loves to face: Corey Hart, 2-for-17
Hates to face: Ryan Braun, 9-for-29
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA in two second-half starts in St. Louis
- Why he'll win: 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his past three starts at Busch Stadium
- Pitcher beware: Only one runnner caught stealing in 20 attempts this season
- Pitcher beware: 0-3 record in seven playoff appearances (two starts)
- Bottom line: Slow things down
- Bottom line: Keep rolling at home
With that, it seems safe to say Wolf is not exactly approaching Thursday's start against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series with a fractured psyche. Instead, the veteran seems confident that he can regain the consistent command he lacked in the Division Series and effectively bounce back against a very familiar Cards lineup.
Milwaukee certainly needs Wolf to rebound in an effective manner. The Brew Crew will enter Thursday's game trailing the Redbirds 2-1 in this best-of-seven series.
"You have to respect what they do," Wolf said. "They scored the most runs in the National League, so you have to understand that you have to mix speeds, make your pitches and stay out of trouble. So regardless of what I did in the past, you know, you can't take that into it."
While going 3-2 with a 5.34 ERA in five starts against the Cards this year, Wolf tasted varying degrees of success. The 35-year-old allowed five earned runs or more in three of those starts and just one run while lasting eight innings in each of the other two outings.
One of those memorable starts was the most recent one he had in St. Louis. Wolf limited the Cardinals to four hits Sept. 5 at Busch Stadium.
"Every game is different," Wolf said. "You can't take the past into any game. So for me, it's a whole new game. They are a good offensive club, and it's up to me to mix speeds and execute the game plan that I have going into it."
Along with attempting to neutralize the potential damage Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday can create, Wolf will be focused on avoiding the mistakes that plagued him as he allowed seven earned runs and eight hits in just three innings against the D-backs in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Wolf believes one of the primary reasons he consistently fell behind in counts against Arizona was his stubborn attempts to continue throwing a curveball that he was having trouble commanding.
"You don't completely discard it," Wolf said. "You learn from it, you know, but it was kind of just reinforcing what you can't do. I think I threw half my pitches for strikes, and I'm not that type of pitcher. I'm the type of pitcher that I command the strike zone and I mix speeds."
Wolf has shown that ability to quickly make necessary adjustments after some of his worst starts this year. The veteran hurler surrendered five earned runs or more in eight regular-season starts this year. He followed six of those starts by allowing two earned runs or fewer in his next outing.
Unfortunately for Wolf, he has not recently shown the ability to find a groove after experiencing a rough outing. He has allowed opponents to hit .409 while giving up 17 earned runs in the 14 innings that have encompassed his past three starts.
"Wolfy is a guy that when his command is good, it doesn't really matter where he's pitching or what offense he's pitching against," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He has to have that good rhythm, that good feeling that allows him to command the baseball."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.