Posts Tagged ‘Postseason’

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.

A look at the American League wild-card playoff between the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers (-185, 9’u, -120), at Arlington, Texas (8:37 p.m. EDT). (TBS):

Projected Lineups:

Orioles: LF Nate McLouth (.268, 7 HRs, 18 RBIs, 12 SBs), SS J.J. Hardy (.238, 22, 68), RF Chris Davis (.270, 33, 85, 169 Ks), CF Adam Jones (.287, 32, 82, 16 SBs), C Matt Wieters (.249, 23, 83), DH Jim Thome (.257, 3, 10 in 28 games), 1B Mark Reynolds (.221, 23, 69), 2B Ryan Flaherty (.216, 6, 19), 3B Manny Machado (.262, 7, 26).

Rangers: 2B Ian Kinsler (.256, 19, 72, 21 SBs, 105 runs), SS Elvis Andrus (.286, 3, 62, 21 SBs), CF Josh Hamilton (.285, 43, 128, 162 Ks, 60 BBs, 103 runs), 3B Adrian Beltre (.321, 36, 102), RF Nelson Cruz (.260, 24, 90), DH Michael Young (.277, 8, 67), LF David Murphy (.304, 15, 61), C Mike Napoli (.227, 24, 56), 1B Mitch Moreland (.275, 15, 50).

Starting Pitchers:

Orioles: LHP Joe Saunders (as an Oriole: 3-3, 3.63 ERA, 23 Ks, 8 BBs in 44-2/3 innings over 7 starts with Orioles) – Saunders has always been one of the most durable pitchers in the game, not to mention one more reliable starters in a rotation. He is 3-7 with a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas, including 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in six previous starts at Rangers Ballpark. Complimenting his fastball, Saunders turns to a deadly slider, and occasionally gets hitters to chase a change-up. When struggling in a game, his weakness tends to be reliance on his change and curve ball. He uses the change more against right-handed hitters than he does lefties. He’ll have the tough chore of facing six right-handed hitters in this game.

Rangers: RHP Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90, 221 Ks, 191-1/3 IP) – The rookie Japanese-import is very assertive with his fastball, which comes in at the higher end of a 92- to 95-mile per hour range. Though this is his first season in MLB, he does boast postseason experience in his homeland. He was 8-2 with a 1.38 ERA and five complete games in 11 postseason starts for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2006-11. Darvish, who is 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his last five starts, has limited opponents to a .139 average with a .180 slugging percentage during that span. The crafty right-hander has not allowed a home run over his last 43 innings.

Series Nuggets:

The Rangers won the 2012 series, 5-2.

The Rangers have won 10 of the last 12 meetings.

Texas scored at least 10 runs three times against the O’s this season.

The Orioles are mired in a 1-5 slide in Arlington.

The Over has cashed six of the last eight meetings.

Baltimore Nuggets:

Baltimore is in on winning streaks of 4-0 versus the A.L. West, 10-2 against right-handed starters, 4-1 when installed as the road underdog and 7-3 with a suitcase in hand.

Baltimore, which was is in contention for the A.L. East title until the last day of the season, is in the postseason after suffering through 14 consecutive losing seasons and four straight last-place finishes before resurrecting itself under manager Buck Showalter.

The Orioles went 29-9 in one-run games and have won an astonishing 16 straight extra-inning contests.

Orioles right-fielder Chris Davis homered in six straight games before the streak came to an abrupt halt in the regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Rays. He finished as the team leader in HRs and RBI.

Baltimore is 23-8 when Adam Jones, who played in all 162 games, goes yard.

Texas Nuggets:

The Rangers are in on winning streaks of 7-1 when installed as a playoff favorite, 11-4 against southpaws, 5-1 with Darvish on the bump and 4-1 when he’s on the hill in Arlington.

Texas slugger Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in major league history to belt four home runs in a game, back on May 8, in a 10-3 win at Baltimore. Hamilton has 11 career blasts in 38 games against the Orioles.

Texas’ Nelson Cruz has batted an impressive .366 with six home runs and 30 RBI in 35 career games vs. Baltimore.

Baltimore is the only American League team Darvish did not face in the regular season.

The Rangers head into this one-and-out playoff game having lost nine of their last 13 games.