The playoffs officially start on Tuesday, with the National League Wild Card Game. This game will be between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates and after today’s result, the Pirates will have home field for this one game. Along with that the Cardinals and Braves are fighting for the best record in the National League. This could end up being huge as I will point out here in just a second. Five National League teams will play for a pennant, but which of those five have the best number one starter. Here is my opinion.
5. Kris Medlen (Atlanta Braves): Medlen and the Braves are easily in the worst shape pitching wise out of all the teams in the National League. Even if they do end up with the best record they will have to go up against the Reds or Pirates. Both of those teams have a better second starter than the Braves have in Medlen. I would have more confidence in Homer Bailey or A.J. Burnett than I would Medlen at this point. Losing Tim Hudson really hurt the Braves and will hurt their chances in the postseason.
4. A.J. Burnett (Pittsburgh Pirates): Burnett in two of his last four has given up five runs in a start. That isn’t a good sign for a team that if they win the Wild Card Game will have to go into game one without Francisco Liriano at the helm. Burnett has done it before, don’t get me wrong but with the emotions of a game one and for the city of Pittsburgh, Burnett can sometimes let the atmosphere get to him emotionally. Burnett isn’t who the Pirates want to have on the hill against the team with the best record but they have to win the Wild Card Game first, so Burnett will get the ball.
3. Homer Bailey (Cincinnati Reds): Homer Bailey has thrown a no-hitter this season, but has been one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the National League. He has been a lot better down the stretch and the Reds should have a lot of confidence in him going into the five game series, if they get that far. Bailey has n hit stuff as we have seen but it is just a matter of if he will have it on that given day. As a Reds fan, I hope he does but he is the third best starter on this list.
2. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals): As I said in the intro, the Cardinals are going after the best record in the National League. If they end up getting it and the Reds win the Wild Card Game, Wainwright will be seeing an offense that he doesn’t want to necessarily see. In his last two starts against the Reds, Wainwright is 0-2 and has given up at least six earned runs in both of those starts. On the other end is the Pirates, and he has had two quality starts the last two times against the Buccos. The Cardinals have a lot of confidence in Wainwright as they should. That is why he is number two on this list.
1. Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers): Is this one really a surprise? Kershaw has been the best pitcher in the National League the entire season and it won’t stop now. If I could pick from any pitcher in the National League to pitch game one for me it would be Kershaw. He has been there before and is the most dominant starter in the league. I could also go with his teammate, Zack Greinke, in this spot as well. They have both been very good this season and the Dodgers should feel very good about their chances in October.