October 5, 2012
For Those About to Watch (We Salute You)
This season may have lacked the dramatic flare of 2011’s frantic finish, but the stretch drive of 2012 has been thrilling in its own right, with division races coming down to the final day and one unlikely club making its only ascension to the top of its division at the most opportune time. After a day of reflection, we are now staring at an unprecedented slate of play-in games to the postseason tournament, where a season's worth of hard work comes down to nine innings of play.
October can be bittersweet for many loyal fans whose teams fell short of the playoffs. Football will lure those whose residual frustration is too great to bear, while others will adopt a more successful team to support through the postseason. But some of our baseball-loving brethren will follow the action regardless of rooting interest, and to those fellow baseball junkies who cherish every last pitch of October baseball: I salute you. To enhance your enjoyment of the next few weeks, here's a list of 10 pitchers who'll be in action this October—one per playoff team—and what makes them worth watching.
Atlanta Braves - Kris Medlen's called strikes
Medlen is deadly with two strikes: his ability to sneak a changeup over the plate has produced an inordinate amount of backwards K's for opposing left-handers, as Dexter Fowler found out on September 3rd. Medlen is third in the league in generating whiffs with his change, ranking behind only top-tier arms Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels. The Nats caught a glimpse of Medlen's skills first-hand on September 24th in a potential preview of the NLDS, in which the righty struck out 13 Nationals, eight of whom were retired on a called third strike. The average pitcher gets about 25 percent of his K's via call by the umpire, but Medlen has posted a 40-percent rate of strikeouts where the batter was caught looking, joining David Price atop the list of umpires' favorite hurlers.
St. Louis Cardinals – Jason Motte's controlled fury