The Cardinals will not play a meaningful 162nd game in 2012. The Dodgers loss last night put the Cards in the playoffs. No matter how far the team goes in 2012, I’m going to go ahead and call 2012 a huge success. The Cardinals made it in without some key members of the last decade. Tony LaRussa retired. Dave Duncan stayed home to help his wife battle cancer. Albert Pujols bolted for the money. Chris Carpenter made 3 starts. Adam Wainwright had the worst year of his career. Lance Lynn had to move to the starting rotation, which left a giant hole in the BP. Eduardo Sanchez had trouble with his mechanics and didn’t make an impact. The BP blew the second most saves in the NL.
As much as a struggle it was to watch this team at times, in the end, they took advantage of the new rules put in play to advance to a 1-game playoff vs. the Atlanta Braves. Mike Matheny will get playoff experience in his first year, along with Derek Lilliquist and a few young players like Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly.
I’ll have many more thoughts as I do a more thorough look at the matchups against the Braves. Right now, it’s Kyle Lohse vs. Kris Medlen. The Braves have won 23 straight games started by Medlen, a modern era MLB record. Medlen is 10-1, has a 1.57 ERA, and has 120 K’s in 138 IP. To put Medlen’s record in perspective, the 23 straight team wins tops the old record of 22 which was shared by Carl Hubbel (1936-1937) of the New York Giants and Whitey Ford of the Yankees (1950-1953). The reason Ford’s record was spread over 4 years was due to military service in ’51 and ’52.