They know Braves starter Kris Medlen is 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA this season. They know he’s 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 10 starts since rejoining the rotation. And yes, they are well aware that Atlanta has won the last 23 games the right-hander has started.
The Cardinals also know what type of offense they have.
“He’s had a great run, you can’t deny that,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “But I look at our offense and I’m not afraid of our matchup with anybody when we’re clicking. It’s just a matter of everybody being on that night.”
Easier said than done against someone with the stats and the stuff like Medlen. But that’s the task that faces the Cardinals Friday afternoon when the right-hander starts against them in the one game Wild Card showdown at Turner Field.
The Cardinals will counter with Kyle Lohse, who has a pretty impressive resume of his own. Lohse was 16-3 with a 2.87 ERA during the regular season.
But most of the talk entering this game has been on Medlen, who was selected as the National League Pitcher of the Month for both August and September. And for good reason. He allowed just two earned runs in 35 2/3 innings over five August starts and six earned runs in 43 innings over six September starts.
“Pretty dominant,” said third baseman David Freese. “ What is it, 20-something something games that he’s pitched the Braves have won? I’d like to say he’s due but the way he’s been throwing it’s going to be a tough battle.”
Medlen has allowed zero or one earned run in ten of his 12 starts since entering the starting rotation on July 31. He allowed two earned runs and three earned runs in his other two outings.
“He’s been great but you never know what’s going to happen in one game,” said first baseman Allen Craig. “It’s going to be exciting to go out there and compete against him because he’s been really tough.”
Not only has Medlen not been giving up any runs, he hasn’t given up many hits or base runners either. He’s allowed more than five hits in just one of his 12 starts and has 84 strikeouts to just 10 walks.
Medlen hasn’t started against the Cardinals this season but did make three relief appearances against them earlier this season. He allowed three earned runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“He’s a good pitcher,” said Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. “He’s having a good run, but at the same time, we have a good team also. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Said outfielder Carlos Beltran, “We got the opportunity to face him before he was a starter coming form the bullpen so we kind of have an idea what type of pitcher he is. Lately I know he’s been pitching good and doing a good job for them but we have to go out there and be aggressive. He’s a guy that’s going to throw a lot of strikes.”
The Cardinals are attempting to become the first National League team to repeat as World Champions since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76. And they’ll have to do something that a team has done only one time this season: beat Kris Medlen.