Cardinals vs. Braves, 2012 N.L. Wild Card Playoff: Medlen faces Lohse

Scott Cunningham - Getty Images

Two of baseball's best arms face each other in one-game playoff.

Friday's N.L. Wild Card playoff game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves at Turner Field will be billed as a good old-fashioned pitching duel.

There is no other way to sell it: Two of the best arms in baseball will face each other in a fight for survival, with the winner moving on to face the Nationals in the Division Series.

The Braves are placing Kris Medlen as the one-game playoff's starter, and for plenty of reasons: his 10-1 record during the regular season. His 1.57 ERA. The fact that Atlanta has not lost a game he started on 23 straight occasions.

What's even more amazing is that Medlen has amassed the bulk of his achievements this year in the season's second half: He has a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts since late July. He faced the Cardinals three times this year, with a 4.76 ERA in 5⅔ innings.

For the Cardinals, the choice was Kyle Lohse. It's true he has never won a game during the postseason, but his numbers this year make him worthy of consideration for the Cy Young award.

The 34-year-old veteran has a 16-3 record, a 2.86 ERA with 143 strikeouts, a .842 winning percentage (best in the Majors), with 211 innings tossed. His consistency throughout the year made him the obvious choice for manager Mike Matheny.

Lohse has an incentive to face the Braves, as well: He allowed five runs off nine hits on May 30, leading him to believe he tipped pitches. He also has to improve over his previous history in the postseason: He is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA in nine playoff appearances, four of them as a starter.

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