What can we expect when the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals square off in this Friday's National League Wild Card play-in game? The Braves boast the best pitching staff in the NL in September, with an ERA of 2.39, that's almost a half run less than the next closest team. The Braves staff and bullpen have carried this team down the stretch, and will be relied upon to take them deep into the post-season.
The Cards have one of the better offenses in the league, ranking second in runs scored this season behind Milwaukee. They have five guys in the lineup with 20 or more home runs on the year.
Let's see how the Cardinals projected lineup matches up against Kris Medlen. He faced them three times this season, all before the All-Star break, and all in relief.
|Cards vs. Medlen||PA||AB||H||2B||3B||HR||RBI||BB||SO||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||GDP|
You can see that even though Medlen gave up some runs in two of his three relief outings against the Cards this year, he has historically handled these batters very well, though there really isn't that much data to draw too many concrete conclusions from. The best lines above are the ones against Beltran and Holliday. The Braves will need to keep these two guys from controlling the game, and Medlen seems to have handled them in the past, as he has been handling most teams' big hitters during this streak he's on.
But again, the St. Louis lineup is deep with power, and Medlen will need to be on his game at all times.
Just about all the Braves hitters are very familiar with Kyle Lohse. The veteran right-hander is 3-and-1 against them in 10 lifetime starts with a 4.97 ERA. He made one start against them this year at the end of May, and though he came away with a no decision, he gave up five runs on nine hits in five innings. He didn't make any starts against the Braves in 2011, and his team was on the winning side of his two starts against the Braves in 2010.
Here is how the Braves batters stack up against Lohse:
|Braves vs. Lohse||PA||AB||H||2B||3B||HR||RBI||BB||SO||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS||GDP|
There is a lot of familiarity with Lohse in this lineup, and with that has come a good degree of success. Chipper and Prado especially seem to feast on his pitches, and the young kids in the middle have also come up big against him at times. These are all small samples, but we can at least gain some confidence from the fact that the Braves have hit Lohse in the past.
This kind of success against the St. Louis starter should give the Braves confidence that they can match the Cardinal offense, while Medlen's success, albeit in limited innings, against the birds should bode well for him to continue to be the shutdown starter he's been for the past two months.