Friday, October 5, 2012

The 1-Game Playoff

Greetings! As the Braves set course for the 1-game wild card playoff game (5:07 first pitch tonight) against St. Louis, let's take a look at how things might shake out...

  • ROSTER - One of the quirks to this ridiculous 1-game playoff format is the fact that this one game has it's own roster selection. In contrast, normally a team would have to set a 25-man unit for the entire series, whereas this roster only applies to the game this afternoon. The Braves roster for tonight is as follows: 
    • C - David Ross (starting over McCann), McCann, Boscan
    • 1B - Freeman, Baker, Overbay
    • 2B - Uggla
    • SS - Simmons, Pastornicky
    • 3B - Chipper
    • OF - Prado, Bourn, Heyward (starters), Johnson, Constanza, Hinske
    • SP - Medlen (starter), Hudson, Minor
    • RP - Kimbrel, Venters, O'Flaherty, Gearrin, Durbin, Avilan
  • MANAGER - To get this out of the way, I'm terrified of the potential disadvantage the Braves may encounter with the roster settings as they are. Fredi has elected to go with 9 pitchers and 16 bats, and while that isn't inherently crazy when you can carry 3 starters and have them all be available, I have zero faith in Fredi deploying this sort of lineup correctly. My two complaints on the roster selection are 1) carrying Hudson instead of Maholm or the Delgado/Teheran combo, and 2) Carrying Overbay over Francisco. Hudson needs to be your Game 1 NLDS starter IMO, and Overbay has shown absolutely nothing at the plate. Fingers crossed!
  • THE CARDINALS - Here's what you need to know about St. Louis. They can hit. They scored the 2nd most runs in the NL this season, and their lineup for Friday features some scary bats in Beltran, Holliday, Molina, and Craig. The lineup is majority right-handed (Beltran, Jay, and Descalso the exceptions) and while this would normally seem to be a good thing against a right-handed starter in Medlen, the curious part is what this does to neutralize Medlen's deadly change-up. He has a career reverse platoon split, and he'll have to figure out a plan to stop the big right-handed bats. On the pitching side, Kyle Lohse gets the ball for the Cards over Adam Wainwright. I'm frankly thrilled that they went with Lohse, as I think Wainwright is/was the much scarier option, but Lohse has been lights-out this year with a 2.86 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 211 innings. He's not an overpowering guy and the Braves beat him up a bit earlier in the year. 
  • MEDLEN - You all know the story by now. The Braves have won 23 straight games that Kris Medlen has started, and he's been the best pitcher on Planet Earth since his first start of the year on July 31st. He's allowed more than 1 run only twice in that entire span, and never more than 3 runs in any game. He's been ridiculous. It's not the ideal matchup (as discussed above), but I feel great about running him out there and asking him to give 6-7 lock-down innings. 
  • FEAR - There's nothing quite like a do-or-die baseball game to effectively murder a fan's psyche. Baseball, unlike any other game for me, provides that dead time between every pitch for 3-4 hours and allows the build-up to rise and rise to the point of craziness. In the perfect world, the Braves would grab an early lead and hold on for dear life, but if it's tight throughout, good luck to us all.
And like Skip Carey once told us... "If he hits it there, we can dance in streets...."

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