Wild-card picks to click

Our experts make some bold predictions on what awaits in today's action

Originally Published: October 3, 2012
ESPN.com

It's the first-ever day of wild-card games, and we've asked our experts to tell us what they expect to see in Friday's action

1. Who's your pick to click in the NL wild-card game?

Jim Caple (@jimcaple), ESPN.com: Atlanta's Kris Medlen, who has been baseball's best pitcher since becoming a starter, will shut down St. Louis. The Cardinals will have to employ all manner of Rally Vermin -- Rally Rats, Victory Voles, Homer Hamsters -- to stand any chance against Medlen and Atlanta, and they will still wind up as Rally Road Kill.

Franklin Rabon (@fjrabon), Capitol Avenue Club: Kris Medlen. He has been on an unfathomable stretch since being added to the rotation in late July, and if he keeps it up he will raise his national profile even further. He features plus-plus command and an excellent changeup.

Jon Shepherd (@CamdenDepot), Camden Depot: Kris Medlen has spent the past two months dominating from the mound. As a starter, he carries a 0.97 ERA and a 8.4 K/BB ratio. When the playoffs are done, Braves fans might be lamenting that they had to burn Medlen's first game in the wild-card game as opposed to the NLDS.


2. Who's your pick to click in the AL wild-card game?

Caple: After scrupulously avoiding coffee, tea, Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Red Bull and all other caffeinated beverages, Josh Hamilton will redeem himself with a home run and several RBIs to back Yu Darvish's victory over the Orioles. He also will catch every routine fly ball hit his way. And then other teams will once again prepare their $200 million offers.

Rabon: Yu Darvish. In any other year, the incredible numbers Darvish has put up as a rookie would be getting more publicity. But some guy named Trout has stolen a lot of his thunder. Matching up against Joe Saunders in the play-in game, I expect Yu to really wow a lot of people who may not have seen him pitch much.

Shepherd: After a slow beginning to the second half of the season, Adam Jones has stepped up his game into the final month with .366 wOBA and arguably one of the baseball's best gloves in center field. On Friday, Jones will raise his star a little more.


3. What's the one thing baseball fans will be talking about when the games end on Friday?

Caple: Fans will wonder why we were supposed to get so excited about the second wild-card teams that are now gone. They also may notice the American League ended exactly the same way as if there had been no change in format. Texas and Baltimore finished with the same record, and then played a one-game playoff to advance into the division series as a wild card.

Rabon: How ludicrous the 2-3 format is for the next round. While I don't think playing the first two games at the lower-seeded team's home park is all that big of a deal, I see it being a huge conversation piece and lightning rod for criticism once the wild-card games are done.

Shepherd: Orioles Magic.