Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Lohse’

A look at the National League wild-card playoff between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, at Atlanta (5:07 p.m. EDT) (TBS).

Projected Lineups:

Cardinals: CF Jon Jay (4 HRs, 40 RBIs, 18 SBs, .385 OBP), RF Carlos Beltran (.269, 32, 97), LF Matt Holliday (.295, 27, 102), 1B Allen Craig (.307, 22, 92), 3B David Freese (.293, 20, 79), C Yadier Molina (.315, 22, 76), 2B Daniel Descalso (.227, 4, 26), SS Pete Kozma (.333, 2, 14).

Braves: CF Michael Bourn (.274, 9 HRs, 57 RBIs, 42 SBs), LF Martin Prado (.301, 10, 70), RF Jason Heyward (.269, 27, 82, 21 SBs), 3B Chipper Jones (.287, 14, 62), 1B Freddie Freeman (.259, 23, 94), 2B Dan Uggla (.220, 19, 78, 168 strikeouts), C David Ross (.256, 9, 23), SS Andrelton Simmons (.289, 3, 19).

Starting Pitchers:

Cardinals: RH Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 ERA). Healthy after two years of nagging forearm trouble, Lohse followed up a 2011 season that saw him lead the rotation in wins and ERA with another stellar campaign. The right-hander’s .842 winning percentage topped the majors, while he set a career high with 211 innings pitched and ranked eighth in the majors with a 2.86 ERA. Lohse fires an 88- to 92-mile per hour fastball with late sink movement, while complimenting it nicely with a downer curveball, a quick slider and a stifling changeup he isn’t afraid to throw on any count to any hitter.

Braves: RH Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57, 120 Ks, 138 IP). After missing most of 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Medlen has been the biggest story for the Braves, going 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA as a starter after the All-Star break. The Braves have won 23 straight games with Medlen as the starter going back to 2010. Drafted as a shortstop and part-time relief pitcher in 2006, Medlen will make his first-ever postseason start. He boasts arguably the best four-seam fastball in the bigs, while he also has a knack for spinning his nifty breaking ball as a quality out pitch whenever he’s ready. And while the speed change on his curve is deadly for hitters, he also has a change that baffles batters more times than not.

Series Nuggets:

The Braves won the 2012 series, 5-1.

Over the past two seasons, the series is deadlocked at 6-6.

Ironically, the road team went 4-2 this season, after the home team went 4-2 in 2011.

The Over is a whopping 22-8 when these two play in Atlanta.

These two haven’t met since May.

St. Louis Nuggets:

St. Louis is on winning streaks of 4-1 with a suitcase in hand, 5-2 against winning teams, 5-2 with Lohse on the hill against winning teams and 12-4 overall.

The Cardinals boast one of baseball’s most power-packed lineups with five 20-homer hitters for the first time in franchise history.

After lingering in the top two most of the season, the Cardinals finished  with the fourth-best batting average (.271) in the bigs this season.

Though they rank 17th overall with 159 home runs, manufacturing runs has become the name of their game, as they rank fifth in the league with 765 plated runs.

Since 1996, only the New York Yankees have won more postseason games (94) than the Cardinals (50.) With that, the Cardinals have won three National League pennants and two World Series trophies to their trophy case.

Atlanta Nuggets:

Atlanta is on winning streaks of 9-1 when laying money at home, 7-1 against winning teams, 13-0 with Medlen up at home, 25-1 with Medlen on the hill and 8-3 overall.

The Braves, who returned to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, swept a three-game series in St. Louis and took two of three at Turner Field.

In their lone meeting with Lohse this season, the Braves tagged him for five runs and nine hits over five innings back on May 30.

Last year, Atlanta squandered a 10-1/2-game wild-card lead and lost out to the Cardinals on the final day.

Atlanta’s Chipper Jones completed his farewell tour in Pittsburgh, but is looking to extend the final season of his career in the postseason. He hit .287 this season – his highest mark since stroking a league-leading .364 in 2008 – with 14 home runs and 62 RBI in 112 games.

Opening night in Major League Baseball actually took place last week in Tokyo, Japan – our national pastime opens up in other countries, yes – but Wednesday night in the spotlight, on national television, the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals open up against the new look Miami Marlins, who have a new coach, some new arms and a new attitude.

They’re still the Marlins, but now they’re the ‘Miami’ Marlins, and they have new uniforms. Ozzie Guillen is now the skipper, and there’s a wealth of talent he has on a roster many are projecting will challenge for a spot in the National League Championship Series.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria didn’t just bring in Guillen to lead the show, he spent dollars on Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, while the city is about to be introduced to a new 37,000-seat, retractable-roof ballpark in downtown Miami.

Thus you can imagine the excitement for tonight’s opener, as the Marlins welcome the champs for an isolated, nationally televised game. It’s no wonder the Marlins are laying a big price – anywhere from $1.70 to $1.90 – across the board.

On the bump, right-handed Kyle Lohse is going for the Redbirds, while righty Josh Johnson is up for the Marlins.

Lohse steps into the role of team-ace, as Chris Carpenter opens the season on the 15-day disabled list. Lohse led the rotation in wins and ERA in 2011. Now he’ll hope to carry the rotation in the season-opener against a 15-year-old team with two World Series titles and splashy new paint job.

Lohse is a guy who has smooth arm action from over the top, and highlights his arsenal with an 88-92-mph fastball with late sink. He also promotes a downer breaking ball, a quick slider and a change-up he’s not afraid to throw on any count, or to any hitter. Originally thought to be maybe the No.4 or 5 starter for St. Louis, this might be a bit much to ask of him.

The one consolation Lohse can take into this, while looking for some run support, is the Cardinals are on a 16-5 run against teams out of the National League East, and have won 20 of the last 27 meetings on South Beach – including the last four of 2011, as the Redbirds outscored the Marlins by a combined final of 20-11. Lohse started the opener of that four-game set, but didn’t get the win after lasting just three innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Plus, keep in mind that included a lineup that had Albert Pujols, and dugout that had manager Tony LaRussa. Both are gone now, and it remains to be seen how the Cardinals will respond without them.

Meanwhile, Johnson is set to make his third-straight Opening Day start, and will be looking to show everyone he is fine after suffering a shoulder injury that limited him to nine starts in 2011.

When he is healthy, Johnson is a dominant No.1 in the rotation. He has an excellent angle to the plate from over the top and uses three superior pitches in his repertoire, including an overpowering 97-mph fastball. He has steadily gotten better, evidenced by an ERA that has dropped four straight seasons. Fact is, when he’s healthy he’s as good as any pitcher in the game, with a bulldog mentality that could guide this team and earn him Cy Young chatter by mid-season.

He lost his lone start against St. Louis last season, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and four walks over 7-1/3 innings, despite striking out seven.

So while Miami has lost nine of its last 13 against National League Central teams, and closed its 2011 campaign on a 17-35 slide, it’s likely going to be looking for the win in this game.

Personally, I think we’re going to see some tentativeness on the part of tonight’s starters – Lohse is stepping into the ace’s role, and Johnson in trying to not tweak that shoulder – and any mistakes are going to be taken advantage of by a pair of aggressive lineups.

I’ll open the season by giving you a free play on the Over in this game, as I see a 7 posted at most books.