Friday, October 5, 2012

The One Game Playoff: Cardinals v. Braves

162 games all comes down to this. Thanks Bud Selig. Every Atlanta fan is optimistically nervous with Medlen taking the mound, all because we have the same fear. Can we hit for him? Nobody can answer that question, but we can dig into the who and the how of the game to maybe start feeling a little better about this matchup. As we all know, we have a unique opportunity to exact total revenge against a Cardinals squad that ruined our lives last season. We can be the team that takes them out to the woodshed and fires the final bullet. In many ways, I want this game because I want that opportunity to crush them. In other ways, the old Atlanta playoff worries rear their ugly head. Still, there's nobody you'd rather have by your side in this game than the Bulldog, Kris Medlen.

Kris Medlen is 10-1 on the season, 23 team wins in a row when he starts, and sporting a 1.57 ERA including his bullpen appearances. Medlen has 120 Ks in 138 innings, with only 23 walks. He's a strike throwing machine, and he can punch people out in clutch situations. That's exactly what you need in the playoffs, because any time a ball goes into play, bad things can happen. Medlen only pitched against St. Louis once this season in relief. The game was an 8-2 rout, and Medlen gave up 2 runs in 2.2 innings. However, that was in May. In September, Medlen's ERA was 1.26 with only 26 hits in 6 games. He'll give up 3-5 hits per outing, and go 6-8 innings pitched. Because of his youth, he's never been in the playoffs, but he's been put in tough situations where the Braves demanded a win, and got it. The Cardinals have a .242 average against Medlen in limited ABs, and none of them have hit a homer off him. When opponents have only been hitting .190 against him as a starter, you have to feel good about your chances.

Kyle Lohse is an 11 year vet with a career 4.45 ERA. Still, this season he's pitched dramatically better holding a 16-3 record and a 2.86 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. In 211 innings, he's struck out 143 with only 38 walks. HOWEVER, he's not the same guy on the road that he is at home. In his 17 road games he's posted a 3.41 ERA with an opponent average of .251 and 11 homers. Also, whereas Medlen has been getting better late in the year, Lohse is getting worse. In September he's sporting a 3.89 ERA, a 2-1 record in 6 games, and 20 runs scored. In fact, the Cards are only 3-3 in his starts in September. That's a far cry from his August where he dominated with a 3-0 record and a 1.42 ERA. Lohse started against Atlanta once back in May, and got his clock cleaned. In 5 innings, he gave up 9 hits, 5 runs, 2 homers, and only struck out 3 batters. The Cards lost that game 10-7. The key was the Braves jumping all over Lohse early with 5 runs in the first three innings. Freeman was a big reason for that. Freeman went 2/3 with a bomb and 2 RBIs the only game he faced Kyle. Chipper has a .462 average against him with 5 RBIs. Prado his .429 against him, Uggla hits .333 against him, and Rossy went 1/2 when he faced him. Only one guy on the team doesn't his Lohse consistently well, Michael Bourn with a .229 OBP. That could be huge, or the other guys could rake. I like the fact that the majority of our lineup likes facing this guy.

In a one gamer, you never know what will happen. I do know one thing though. The Braves have to score in the first 3 innings. I think we all know what it's like to watch this team if they get skunked in the first three, and the heads start to drop. We can't have that old familiar friend, doubt, set into this lineup. Can we hit? Will we hit? We can't ask those questions. How much are we going to beat them by? When is Lohse going to get knocked out of the game? What kind of champagne does Medlen like? These are the questions we have to ask. I believe. I think we're ready. I know Medlen is ready.

Go Braves!

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