The St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) and Atlanta Braves (94-68) will face off in a NL Wild Card matchup on Friday afternoon at Turner Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 5:07 ET on TBS
St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves
St. Louis secured the NL’s second Wild Card spot on the next to last day of the 2012 regular season, as it finished nine games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central standings. “We know the necessity to make it like a Game 7,” commented Cardinals first-year manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals went a combined 16-21 against teams in the postseason, while producing a plus-117 run differential, which was second-best among NL teams. St. Louis is 14-20 against NL East opponents this year, which is an important factor to handicap when making your MLB baseball picks.
Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 ERA) didn’t factor into the decision of a 6-4 home loss to the Washington Nationals in his last regular season outing, giving up four runs and eight hits over six frames. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.59 ERA in nine starts versus NL East opponents, while posting an 8-2 mark and 3.41 ERA in 17 road starts. In nine career appearances (four starts) in postseason play, Lohse has tallied an 0-4 record and 5.54 ERA.
Atlanta is hoping to have better success in the playoffs in Chipper Jones final year with the franchise, as the club has dropped its last six series in postseason play, while also going 0-5 in elimination games at today’s ballpark. The Braves are hoping to move past this game and match up with division rival Washington, who beat them out in capturing the divisional crown. Outfielder Michael Bourn is truly the key to the offense at the top of the lineup, as he batted .207 in the last 34 games of the season, which led to the offense averaging just 3.3 runs per game in that span. Atlanta is 7-6 at home when the total is 7 or less.
Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA) has led the franchise to 23 consecutive wins when taking the mound, which is a modern Major League Baseball record. The right-hander compiled a 4-1 record and 1.76 ERA in 24 home appearances (seven starts), surrendering just four home runs in 76.2 innings. In five career appearances versus the Cardinals, Medlin has yet to earn a decision, while allowing four runs and eight hits over 9.2 frames (3.72 ERA).
Sports bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 6-1 record as road underdogs of +151 to +200, while the Braves are 1-5 in their last six playoff games.