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10/11/06 10:33 PM ET

Game 1 rainout clouds Mets' plans

Delay in series' start raises questions about pitching rotation

NEW YORK -- The fallout from the rainout of the National League Championship Series opener on Wednesday night is just one more unknown added to an event that has been shrouded in uncertainty since the moment the Mets secured a place in it. But for the most part, the postponement appears to benefit the Cardinals and severely handicap the Mets.

Because the first game was postponed, the Cardinals now have the option of reassigning their primary starting pitcher, Chris Carpenter, to Games 2 and 6, rather than Games 3 and 7. The Mets have an unwanted option now. Tom Glavine starts Game 1, now on Thursday. But his subsequent start would be in either Game 5 on short rest or in Game 6 with extra rest. At this point, with Game 1 still unplayed and Glavine's first start unmade, neither option is preferred. Moreover, the Mets have no other starter on their 25-player roster who would be available to start Game 5.

Glavine said shortly after the postponement that he could start Game 5 on three rather four days' rest. He had made a similar offer to start Game 1 of the NLDS on short rest after Orlando Hernandez was scratched. But Glavine is 40 years old and full rest seemingly would benefit him as much as it would any starter in this series.

The Mets' decision-makers didn't address the situation after the postponement. They did contact Major League Baseball to determine whether rosters submitted Wednesday morning could be revised because the series hadn't begun. The official response was negative, unless the changes were because of extreme circumstances.

The new circumstances exacerbate the effect of the absence of Pedro Martinez and Hernandez. Chances are, if one of them had been available, Oliver Perez would have been excluded from the roster. If both were available, John Maine probably would have been excluded from the rotation but included on the roster and, therefore, available to start if circumstances demanded it.

The Cardinals will be similarly affected regardless of what they decide to do with Carpenter. But they are not opposed to using Jeff Weaver, their Game 1 starter, in Game 5 on short rest. As a sinkerball pitcher, he would be affected less adversely than any other Cardinals starter by short rest.

The postponement added more uncertainty to the series. Before the rainout, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he likely would retain the rotation he had established -- Weaver in Game 1, followed by Jeff Suppan in Game 2, now on Friday, and Carpenter in Game 3 in St. Louis on Saturday. Carpenter's performance and comfort in Busch Stadium were factors in that decision, La Russa said. But the rainout moved him off that, and he said Carpenter's assignment was "up for grabs, in my opinion."

Note: Fans holding tickets originally marked for Game 1 on Wednesday can only used those tickets for Friday's game, the time for which has yet to be determined. Tickets marked Game 2 are to be used for Thursday's game.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.