Cards at Braves playoff preview

The Cardinals and the Braves will be the first game of the 2012 postseason, a season in which the Cards benefit from securing the new rule that is the 2nd WC.  The SP’s and lineups have been announced, as it will be Kyle Lohse vs. Kris Medlen.  By now, everyone has heard the story on Medlen and the record breaking 23 straight games the Braves have won when he’s started.  Medlen is not overpowering at all, but does have excellent control and movement on his pitches.  Going to Medlen’s scouting report on Fangraphs, here’s a detailed look at what he brings in terms of different pitches:

Fastball—Medlen throws his fastball 61.1% of the time, at an average of 90.1 MPH.  This accounts for both his 2 and 4 seam fastball.  The 4-seamer is used to keep hitters honest on trying to dive and adjust to the sinking action on his 2-seamer.  Medlen will throw the 2-seamer at 88-90 MPH and the 4-seamer at 91-93 MPH.

Curveball—Medlen throws the curveball 17.8% of the time at an average of 77.4 MPH.

Changeup—Medlen throws the changeup 19.9% of the time at an average of 80.8 MPH.

Slider/Cutter—Medlen is a 4-pitch pitcher and his 4th pitch is described by some as a slider or a cutter.  He rarely throws it, 1.1% for his career and 0.1% in 2012.

Here is a great breakdown with video of Medlen and his tendencies and pitches also from Fangraphs.

If what you see from Medlen reminds you of anyone, it should.  Lohse is a very similar pitcher.  Lohse is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA in 4 games started in the playoffs in his career.  But let’s not fool ourselves.  The 2012 version of Lohse is the best anyone has ever seen.  He’s healthy and he’s put it all together.  He said yesterday he’s felt more comfortable under Mike Matheny compared to Tony LaRussa, and in a different interview, gives thanks to both Derek Lilliquist and Dave Duncan.

If this were any other year in which Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were 100%, even with the great year by Lohse, you give them the ball instead.  However, I think you have to give the ball to Lohse in this spot and see what happens.

I don’t feel like it’s relevant to give the numbers of all of the starting position players on either team or how they stack up against Lohse and Medlen.  The Cards haven’t faced Medlen as a starter, and Lohse is having a career year.  If Lohse gets the corner calls more often than not, the Cards have a great chance.  Lohse lives on the corners as much or more than any pitcher in baseball, and generally strike zones shrink in the playoffs.  Hopefully the latter isn’t the case.  Trying to predict one game in baseball is nonsense, and that’s why we love it.

The starting lineups will be below this paragraph.  I don’t want to take anything away from the game today at all, but there are a few thoughts in my mind I want to get out there.  The first person and last person to congratulate is John Mozeliak.  He made a great choice by letting Albert Pujols walk, and the future of the Cards is in good hands.  With Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly emerging, along with Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras and many others on the way, the Cardinals are looking very good for the coming years.  The Cardinals got in despite losing 3 probable HOF’ers in Pujols, LaRussa and Duncan. Lance Berkman and Carpenter made little impact.  Rafael Furcal had his season end in August.  Pete Kozma may never stick as a MLB SS, but so far, he’s more than held his own, and will get a chance to build on what he’s done.  Mo’s choice of Matheny was the right one.  This sounds like I’m expecting the Cardinals to lose today.  I’m not, but I’m not Nostradamus.  If the Cards get by Atlanta today, I think they have as good a shot as any team in the NL to play in the WS.

I’ll touch on plenty of these topics in the offseason.  Here are the starting lineups for today:

Cardinals

CF—Jon Jay

RF—Carlos Beltran

LF—Matt Holliday

1B—Allen Craig

C—Yadier Molina

3B—David Freese

2B—Daniel Descalso

SS—Pete Kozma

SP—Kyle Lohse

Braves

CF—Michael Bourn

LF—Martin Prado

RF—Jason Heyward

3B—Chipper Jones

1B—Freddie Freeman

2B—Dan Uggla

C—David Ross

SS—Andrelton Simmons

SP—Kris Medlen

On one final note, I would like to say that the Cards catch a break with Brain McCann not starting at catcher for the Braves, but if the playoffs are true to form, it will be a player like David Ross that makes a difference at some point in the game.

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