Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Game 1 NLDS Matchup thoughts and predictions


Can Kris Medlen stop the Kershaw train tonight? Photo unknown via

Can Kris Medlen stop the Kershaw train tonight? Photo unknown via

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 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.


Written by Todd Boss

October 3rd, 2013 at 9:31 am

2 Responses to 'Game 1 NLDS Matchup thoughts and predictions'

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  1. Watching the Cardinals paste the Pirates, I was struck by the timeliness of their hitting. They seem to drive in a run every time someone reached second base. Then up popped a graphic listing on the screen listing the NL players with the top RISP averages. Five of the first 6 were Cardinal hitters.

    When asked last week what the Nat’s biggest weakness was this year, Rizo replied “the lack of offensive efficiency.”

    The Old Boss

    4 Oct 13 at 11:23 am

  2. Ask any sabre-nerd and they’ll tell you that “clutch” doesn’t exist and that all aspects of batting (good or bad) with RISP is merely coincidence. I don’t buy it. I think hitting with runners on base is a skill that can be practiced and honed. I think there’s importance to driving runners in when you have the opportunity. I think a batter with a runner on third and less than one out can absolutely look for a ball that he can hit into the air, thus driving in the run.

    Here’s the link to Fangraphs split for batting average with “runners on base” (I can’t find RISP there):

    Cardinals hitters are #1, 2, 7 and 8 in the majors for the year. MVP candidates Cabrera, Donaldson, Cano, Goldschmidt are all way up there … but Trout and McCutchen are on the 2nd page, with BAs below their season averages. Highest Nat is Werth, #38 with a .302 BA, again below his own seasonal average. Clear proof of what Rizzo alluded to; almost no clutch hitting going on by the Nats this year.

    Todd Boss

    4 Oct 13 at 12:04 pm

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