Friday's Wild Card playoff game will be the biggest start of Kris Medlen's career, as the Braves will ask their 26-year old playoff starter to help carry them into the NLDS.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Al Leiter, who will be part of the broadcast crew for the MLB Network, talked about his experiences in playoff elimination games and what he would tell Medlen in the run-up to Friday's game against the Cardinals:
And having pitched in a game like that and I also started a Game 7, which is essentially a one-game playoff when the loser goes home, is to think about this pitch, this moment. Execution of a quality pitch consecutively. Exploit a hitter's weakness. Don't allow the exterior distractions to come into that. Repeat a consistent delivery and make quality pitches. It sounds cliché. It sounds kind of textbook, but it really is what a pitcher is trying to do.
As Leiter acknowledges, 'taking it one pitch at a time' is one of the oldest cliches in baseball. However, that doesn't mean it isn't sound advice.
Medlen, with a 10-1 record and 1.57 ERA in 2012, has proven that he can be an excellent starting pitcher. Friday may be the biggest stage he's ever pitched on, but it's still a matter of making the same pitches that have made him so dominant in the regular season.