October 5, 2012 at 10:47 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
With how right-handed the Cardinal lineup is, Medlen’s usage of his curveball throughout the game will be a very big key for the Braves while St. Louis is at the plate. He will face three lefty hitters, so he will not be able to utilize his changeup at the same rate as he has all season, even though he does use it against right-handed hitters more frequently than most changeup specialists do. His curveball has taken the biggest jump of any of his pitches this year, and he will have to locate it it with regularity to succeed this evening.
Both pitchers do well at keeping the ball in the ballpark and avoiding free passes. This means there will be a lot of balls put in play, so whichever team makes fewer defensive miscues will probably have an advantage. The Braves outfield defense is one of the best the league has ever seen, so they should not have many issues there. In the infield, they could run into problems outside of shortstop. Not being able to balls has been an issue all year, but what they really need to focus on is not giving away outs. The Cardinals have below average defenders at many positions, so keeping the ball in play and avoiding strikeouts will be rather important for the Braves this year to take advantage of the underwhelming defenders for St. Louis.
Cristhian Martinez has been left off the post-season roster, something I would not have done. I would have kept him over Luis Avilan, even though Martinez has reverse platoon splits. The Cardinals really only have one left-handed hitter in their lineup when you consider switch-hitters, so I am not quite sure the team needs three left-handed relievers to get through their lineup. If Fredi sticks to Venters in the sevenh and O’Flaherty in the eighth regardless of matchups, there could be problems. As mentioned, the Cardinal lineup is very right-handed so matching right-handed pitchers up with their tough right-handed bats will be key. I would also consider throwing Kimbrel for two innings if they have a lead and are facing a tough part of the Cardinal order.