We are only hours away from the beginning of the 2012 MLB Playoffs. With the way the final weeks of the season came to a close, this postseason promises to be filled with exciting matchups and moments.
But before we get to the World Series, baseball fans get a first look at MLB’s new playoff format, with a pair of winner-take-all wild card games.
Anything can happpen in a one-game situaton, so the City of Champions staff of Matt Shetler, Matt Gajtka and Zac Weiss are here to sort it all out and offer up their predictions.
With that being said, let’s get right into our first matchup.
St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves
Shetler’s Take: Atlanta has been the much more consistent team down the stretch, finishing September 20-8 while allowing two or fewer runs in 11 of their final 18 games.
The Braves’ bullpen is much better and if they get the ball into Craig Kimbrel’s hands, it’s game over. St. Louis limped into the playoffs, but I don’t see them going on a long run like they did a season ago.
However the Cardinals lead all NL playoff teams in runs scored, OPS, slugging, batting average and games scoring in double figures (16). They have a dependable postseason rotation in Kyle Lohse, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. But there is no Albert Pujols or Lance Berkman and their bullpen isn’t very good.
The Braves are eventually going to lose one of Kris Medlen’s starts, but I don’t think today will be the day.
Shetler’s Prediction: Braves 5, Cardinals 3.
Gajtka’s Prediction: I like the Cardinals to win because they’re lineup is deeper and Medlen is due for a poor start. I also think the Atlanta bullpen, except Kimbrel, can be had if you get to it early.
Weiss’ Prediction: Braves 3, Cardinals 1. Can the Braves continue to win with Kris Medlan on the mound? The difference maker will be Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Texas Rangers
Shetler’s Take: Yu Darvish has had a great season and has a 10-3 record against teams the first time they see him, which is the case with the Orioles tonight.
Josh Hamilton should make up for his dropped fly ball that played a big part in the Oakland A’s overtaking the Rangers to win the American League West and I see Hamilton carrying this offense for the evening, especially against Joe Saunders, who has an ERA close to 10 in Arlington.
Finally, the Rangers have been on the big stage before and this is all new to the Orioles. Experience will be the key as the Rangers advance.
Shetler’s Prediction: Rangers 7, Orioles 4
Gajtka’s Predicion: I’ll take the Rangers at home tonight. The Orioles’ luck runs out against a superior team.
Weiss’ Prediction: Orioles 7, Rangers 5. Joe Saunders always struggles pitching in Texas but rookie Manny Machado will be the MVP and the Orioles win.