I’m 3-for-3 so far predicting the play-in games. Called the Texas-Tampa game, then the NL wild-card, then the AL wild-card. I didn’t mean to start the post-season by offering predictions, but some email messages with friends turned into analytic efforts which turned into blog posts. Now i’ll continue the trend and try to guess the winners each day as best as I can.
Next up in baseball’s post-season: the first games of each NL divisional series. Here’s some quick hit thoughts. The si.com probable-pitcher page is a nice little resource, giving the probable starters and a quick little stat history.
Without doing a ton of research (not much time today):
Pirates at Cardinals. Pirates #2 A.J. Burnett goes against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is tough at home, tough all year, has been good down the stretch, and probably isn’t getting beat in his own stadium. He’s a quality right-handed pitcher going against a Pirates lineup that doesn’t score a ton of runs and isn’t that great against right handed hitters. I also think the Pirates may have a bit of a letdown early in this series, having blown their Ace and a lot of emotional capital in the wild-card game. Burnett has faced the Cards six times this season, most recently a month ago in St. Louis and got hammered. I think the Cards wear down Burnett on the road again and cruise to an easy game 1 victory.
Dodgers at Braves. The Dodgers have their rotation lined up and put out ace Clayton Kershaw in Atlanta for game 1. Meanwhile the Braves send to the hill Kris Medlen, who has been fantastic down the stretch to get the nod as the replacement Ace of the Braves staff for Tim Hudson. Medlen’s strong close to the season is muddied by looking at his competition; the last time he faced a playoff-calibre team was a month ago, when he was good but not great against the Cardinals. Meanwhile Kershaw’s unreal 1.83 ERA on the season represented an ERA+ value of 194, tied for the 46th best ever such season and ranking him ahead of a couple of Sandy Koufax‘s dominant mid-1960s seasons. Kershaw led the league with 232 strikeouts; the Braves as a team only trailed the hapless Astros and Twins in team strikeouts. Atlanta only hit .239 on the season against all lefties, let alone the best left-handed starter in the league. I just do not see Atlanta getting a ton of baserunners tonight. Plus I don’t entirely trust Medlen against a good team and I think he’ll have a quality start but get the loss, something like 3-1 to the Dodgers.