Cardinals manager Mike Matheny isn't trying to make the final game of the regular season anything more than it is: one more day standing between his club and Thursday's National League Division Series opener.
With the NL Central title in hand, the Cards gave Carlos Beltran and David Freese a day of rest on Saturday and others could join them in getting time off on Sunday, when the Cardinals host the Cubs to close out the regular season.
St. Louis will be playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a chance to face the winner of the Wild Card Game between the Reds and Pirates instead of playing the NL West champion Dodgers. With the Braves' 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Saturday, the Cardinals can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win on Sunday.
An Atlanta win and a Cardinals loss would give the Braves home-field advantage since they hold the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series.
Still, Matheny doesn't plan on going all-out to win Sunday's game.
Jake Westbrook, 36, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 6, will start on the mound and Joe Kelly will follow since Westbrook isn't stretched out enough to pitch too deep.
"Maybe I should put more [emphasis on home-field advantage], but I don't," Matheny said. "My theory is people start overthinking that and over planning and trying to be a master puppeteer in how that all plays out. I think that stuff comes back and bites you. I think there's too many good teams in this right now and we got to respect that, respect the game, just like we've done all season long and what we do is we go out and set our priorities.
"I made it clear to you guys right now, our priority is getting these guys ready for Thursday. But whenever we walk out there we also don't want to lose that culture that we developed of going out and maximizing everything we've got while we're out there out. No matter who we put out there, we're playing to win all the time."
The game could be a send-off of sorts for Westbrook, who has spent the last 3 1/2 years with the Cardinals but isn't expected to have his $9.5 million mutual option picked up for 2014. Westbrook began the season strong but hasn't pitched as well since right elbow inflammation sent him to the disabled list after six starts. He's been available in the bullpen, but has pitched just once since Aug. 21 and doesn't appear to fit in the club's postseason plans.
"He's done a lot for a lot of people around here," Matheny said. "If Jake Westbrook wouldn't have been one of our veteran leaders, not just what he was doing on the mound as a real good starter, [but] a guy like [Adam Wainwright], he didn't carry all the burden of taking in these young pitchers as a leader of the staff without another veteran stepping and mirroring that kind of work ethic, that kind of competitive nature. We're real proud with how Jake has been able to help our club in many different ways and decided to get him out there to start."
The Cubs will wrap up a season in which they've lost at least 10 games against four different teams for the first time since 2002. They're 7-11 against the Cardinals, 5-14 against the Reds, 6-13 against the Brewers and 7-12 against the Pirates.
The Cubs had to watch the Cardinals clinch the division title on Friday night, marking the third time in five games they've seen another team spray champagne.
"These teams clinching isn't really ideal, but you just have to roll with it," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "That's what happened this year. It's going to test everyone's character in how we go into the offseason and train and prepare for next year."
Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.33 ERA) will start the Cubs' finale, though he's not expected to pitch more than five innings.
Cardinals: Postseason roster shaping up
The 25-man roster doesn't need to be set until Thursday, but general manager John Mozeliak projected the Cardinals will carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players, although they may carry an extra reliever to allow Matheny to be more aggressive with his changes.
"Last year was just such a great luxury to have a guy for the seventh, a guy for the eighth, a guy for the ninth," Matheny said. "It doesn't matter, left, right, switch, that was our formula. And we don't necessarily have that right now. We have a lot of guys we have faith in and we just want to put them in the best situations. It's a different situation where we could be using more guys so we need to have some guys with some flexibility."
Cubs: Rizzo hoping to end on a high note
One of the cogs to the Cubs' lineup in 2013 and beyond, Rizzo homered on Saturday for just the second time this month.
After hitting 13 homers with a .815 OPS in the first half, Rizzo slowed down after the All-Star break, as his OPS dropped almost 150 points. He's hoping a solid weekend could carry him into the offseason with confidence.
"We only have nine innings left this year," said Rizzo, who has 39 doubles and 23 homers. "Hopefully, those nine innings get us going and we can go into the offseason on a high note."
• The Cardinals set the home wins record for Busch Stadium III with 53 this season.
• The Cardinals will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stan Musial's final regular-season game during a pregame ceremony on Sunday.
• Cubs manager Dale Sveum and general manager Jed Hoyer will finish up their season-ending meetings with each player on Sunday.