Prior to this season, Lohse had been a sub-.500 pitcher in his career. The 34-year-old right-hander somehow put it altogether in 2012, his 11th season, going 16-3 in 33 starts with a 2.86 ERA. Though not overpowering (143 strikeouts in 211 innings), he’s always had decent stuff.

The Cardinals need him to come up big in Friday's winner-moves-on showdown with Atlanta, and then to come back and factor in the next round as well if they hope to do any damage. The rest of the staff is OK, especially in the case of Lance Lynn (18-7, 3.78 ERA), and it has postseason experience. The offense has some pop, too, with 100-RBI guy Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran leading the way, but it hasn’t been consistent enough to make St. Louis a dominant team this season.

The Cardinals, going by record, are the weakest team in the NL’s postseason field, having posted just 88 wins. They’re also putting a lot on Lohse, who hasn’t exactly been lights out in the playoffs.

In nine postseason appearances, including four starts, the 6-2, 210-pounder has gone 0-4 with an ERA of 5.54. Just last season, he went 0-2 in three starts with a whopping 7.82 ERA.

But, again, his current season seems to be showing a different side. The one caveat is that he hasn’t been great on the road, posting a 3.41 ERA while opposing batters hit .251 against him. He’s also facing arguably the game’s hottest pitcher in the Braves’ Kris Medlen, who is 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA this season.