Tim Cooney likely used to dream about pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Instead, he'll fulfill another dream of becoming a major leaguer by pitching against them.
Cooney makes his big league debut Thursday as the St. Louis Cardinals wrap up their four-game set with Philadelphia.
This was scheduled to be Adam Wainwright's next start before the Cardinals learned he was done for the rest of the season due to a torn Achilles. Wainwright is scheduled for surgery Thursday.
Enter Cooney, a 24-year-old left-hander and a lifelong Phillies fan from Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Cooney wore No. 35 at Wake Forest in honor of Cole Hamels and recalled skipping high school to attend the team's 2008 World Series parade.
"There aren't a ton of guys around from when I watched," Cooney, a third-round pick in 2012, said. "I think it'll just be a fun little challenge. I'm just going to try and treat it like any other game."
It's unclear if Cooney will get an extended chance with Wainwright out, though conventional wisdom suggests Thursday's performance could have a heavy bearing on St. Louis' decision. He enjoyed a strong spring, going 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA over four relief appearances, and won 14 games last year for Triple-A Memphis. He's 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA through three starts there this season.
Manager Mike Matheny said he would avoid giving Cooney too much scouting information in an effort to try to simplify things.
"He doesn't need to break down the Phillies and understand the weakness of every one of their hitters," Matheny said.
Philadelphia's lineup included five left-handed hitters in Wednesday's 5-2 loss. Though the Phillies (8-14) are baseball's least productive offense with 2.7 runs per game, they've hit .291 against southpaws over the last seven.
They were held to the two runs over six innings Wednesday by starter Carlos Martinez, and only had two additional hits against the St. Louis bullpen.
The Cardinals (14-6) improved to 7-2 at home and Kolten Wong is 14 for 38 over his last nine games after a 2-for-4 night. Matt Adams doubled twice and is 5 for 11 in the series with three RBIs.
Philadelphia's David Buchanan (0-4, 7.52 ERA) seeks his first victory since Aug. 6, dropping seven decisions during a 13-start drought. He appeared to show some signs of progress in his most recent outing, however, giving up three runs and two hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-2 loss to Atlanta on Saturday.
"I can certainly take some positives from this, no doubt about it," he told MLB's official website. "I made some good pitches. I need to make a few more."
The right-hander continues to be plagued by walks, though, issuing three bases on balls to push his total to 12 in 20 1-3 innings.
Buchanan will look to draw upon his success in two matchups with St. Louis last year in which he went 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA. Matt Carpenter was the only batter to fare particularly well against him, going 3 for 6. Carpenter had recorded two hits in five of six games before going 0 for 4 Wednesday.
A victory for the Cardinals would make them winners of every series since splitting two games with the Chicago Cubs to open the season.