Couch Side’s official MLB wildcard preview
BY BRANDON J. SMITH & WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com bloggers
With the postseason kicking off tomorrow night, Couchside’s official MLB playoff preview will look at the MLB’s new extended wildcard round and offer predictions of who will win each one-game series.
Cardinals at Braves
• Brandon: Kris Medlen has been fantastic, sporting a 1.57 ERA to boot. He’s faced St. Louis once this season, and it was a long relief appearance on May 28th in an 8-2 loss. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in 2 2/3 innings. It’s hardly a large enough sample to extrapolate from, but he’s been great against righties and the Cardinals strength is their RH group of Molina, Holliday, Craig, and Freese. Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals starter, has pitched to contact all season, but kept the walks down and the strikeouts at a respectable 6 per 9 innings. For Kyle Lohse, pitching 211 innings with a 2.86 ERA on those peripherals is a really great Kyle Lohse season. He allowed 5 runs to the Braves in a start on May 30th; he gave up 9 hits and 2 home runs. Will fortunes reverse? I’m going to go ahead and say yes, you can never predict these one game affairs, so I’ll go with the likely underdog.
Prediction: Cardinals win 5-4 in dramatic fashion.
• Wade: Oh Brandon, first you’re going to rank the L.A. Angels than the Detroit Tigers in your power rankings and now you’re hating on my beloved Braves? I don’t think the Cardinals have a chance for the simple reason that Brandon had to use Kris Medlen’s name in his first sentence. I see the 26-year-old master of the zone dominating the Red Birds on Friday night. Medlen wasn’t pitcher perfect in the first half of the season, but now, he’s playing like he is the Mike Trout (or Migueld Cabrera) of the mound in the major leagues. Medlen just has too much momentum on his side, winning nine of his 13 starts this season and posting a 1.26 ERA with four wins this month. Medlen isn’t the only Brave to catch fire, either. Atlanta went 20-9 to wrap up the season, closing the gap between them and the Washington Nationals (who the Braves swept in September) in the N.L. East to just four games by the time it was all said and done. This truly is one of the hottest teams in baseball right now and although Friday’s contest against St. Louis won’t be an easy win. I believe that my Braves will hang on in a low-scoring tight one. There’s no way Craig Kimbrel blows this one.
Prediction: Braves win 2-0 with an outstanding performance by Kris Medlen
Orioles at Rangers
• Brandon: I have no elite analysis here, all I’m going to say is never turn your back on Orioles magic.
Prediction: Orioles win 8-5
• Wade: I’ll have to do a little better than that Brando. Texas somewhat looks like the fork is in their side and they’re yelling “I’m done.” The Rangers are showing that they’ve laid down and the ultimate proof of their giving up the final game yesterday afternoon when the Oakland Athletics walked away with the division, pulling off a season-ending sweep of their division foe. There are two Cinderella Stories in this MLB playoff — the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles. If Texas, a team that has made the World Series for two seasons straight, can’t clinch the division by beating one of these storied-season clubs, the Rangers sure don’t seem like they will find the gusto in just one short day to defeat the other. Texas is 3-7 in its last 10 while the O’s are 6-4. That’s pretty much enough evidence for me.
Prediction: Baltimore advances to the “real playoffs” for the first time in 14 years with a 7-4 victory