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Matchup for NL wild-card playoff game

By Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune –

National League wild-card playoff

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Starters: Kris Medlen is the modern Greg Maddux, a modestly built right-hander with uncanny command. He’s on a roll. Kyle Lohse has been terrific this year but historically has been a middle-of-the-rotation piece. Edge: Braves

Bullpen: Both have strong closers, but the cast in front of Craig Kimbrel is a lot better than the guys who work in front of Jason Motte. Edge: Braves

Hitting: Matt Holliday hasn’t been himself in September, which has hurt the Cardinals, but the likes of Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, David Freese and Yadier Molina form a strong lineup. Rookie shortstop Pete Kozma nicely stepped in for Rafael Furcal. Edge: Cardinals

Fielding: Among playoff teams, only the A’s have allowed fewer unearned runs than the Cardinals. Molina sets the tone with his Gold Glove play behind the plate. Edge: Cardinals

Bench: The Braves had the least productive pinch hitters in the NL. Edge: Cardinals

Manager: Mike Matheny learned from Tony La Russa, Fredi Gonzalez from Bobby Cox. This is a La Russa time of the year. Edge: Cardinals

Gut read: The Braves have won 23 consecutive starts by Medlen, last losing behind him May 23, 2010. This is the classic reverse lock.

PHIL ROGERS’ PICK: CARDINALS

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