The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are both struggling this season. Both teams are currently third in their respective divisions but while the Braves are still alive in the NL East race at 3.5 games down, the Cardinals have fallen 9.5 games behind their division leaders in the NL Central
Atlanta has been alternating between a win and a loss since the All-Star break and if that trend continues then they should take this win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
The Atlanta Braves have not won or lost more than one consecutive game since the All-Star break and they are looking to build a winning streak to catch up with their division leaders New York Mets who are just 3.5 games ahead of them in the standings. The Braves lost two of three to the Brewers in their last series including a 2-1 loss on Sunday.
First baseman Freddie Freeman leads the team with 113 hits including 23 home runs. Second baseman Ozzie Albeis has 108 hits while Austin Riley has 107. Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will miss the rest of the season due to an ACL injury. Atlanta has averaged 4.5 runs per game scored in their last 14 games to give their pitchers ample support.
Max Fried will take the mound in Game 1 of this series. Fried has started 17 games this season and he has a record of 7-7 with an ERA of 4.32 and a WHIP of 1.34. Fried has pitched in a total of 91.2 innings and he has surrendered 46 runs while walking 32 hitters and striking out 94.
St. Louis has started well after the All-Star break with only one series loss. However, their path to the postseason looks tough right now as they are 9.5 games behind in their division and 6.5 games back of the 2nd wild card spot in the National League. They won their last series against Minnesota 2-1 including a 7-3 victory on Sunday.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt leads the team with 107 hits and a batting average of .269. Tommy Edman has 106 hits while Nolan Arenado has 103. The Cards rank 25th in the league in OPS at .693 and 22nd in walks at only 311 this season or an average of 2.96 walks per game. However, their offense looked better last month with a slash line of .254/.320/.422.
Lefty John Lester will open on top of the hill for St. Louis on Tuesday night. The 37-year old has started 16 games this season and he has posted a record of 3-5 record with an ERA of 5.02 and a WHIP of 1.59. Lester has conceded 50 runs including 14 home runs with 29 walks and 51 strikeouts in 75.1 innings of work.
The Braves are 35-16 in their last 51 games when scoring 2 or fewer runs in their previous game. Atlanta is also 16-5 in their last 21 games after suffering a loss in their previous outing. They are also 4-0 in their last four games as road favorites, 4-1 in their last five games against a left-handed starter, and 5-2 in their last seven games against an opponent with a winning record.
The Cardinals are 4-2 in their last six games played. St. Louis is 4-1 in their last five home games, 6-3 in their last nine games against the National League, 8-2 in their last 10 games against an opponent with a losing record, 14-5 when the total is set between 7-8.5, and 11-5 in their last 16 Tuesday games.
Fried has been a solid starter over the last few seasons but he’s struggled on the road this year with a 5.85 ERA away from Atlanta. However, the Cardinals aren’t that much of a hitting team to make a difference here and Fried should be able to limit the damage.
This will mark Lester’s first start as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and there could be some jitters here as he still has to get on the same page as Yadier Molina.
Atlanta’s strength has always been its offense and that unit is now even better with the addition of Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Jorge Soler at the trade deadline. Knowing Lester’s situation, they should be able to take advantage.
I’ll take the road team here as the Braves have won seven out of the nine meetings in St. Louis.
Prediction: Atlanta Braves
The under is 5-4-1 in the last 10 games played by Atlanta. The Braves have seen the total go under in four out of their last five Tuesday games, 7-3-1 in their last 11 games against the National League Central, 25-19-1 in their 45 games against the National League this season, and 9-4 in their last 13 road games when the total is set between 7-8.5.
The total has gone under in six out of the Cardinals’ last 8 games against the National League East division. The under is also 4-1 in their last five games against a left-handed starter, 4-1 in their last five home games against a lefty starter, 13-4 in their last 17 games as home underdogs, 26-11-3 in their last 40 home games when the total is set between 8.0-9.5, and 9-4 in their last 13 games after scoring 5 or more runs in their previous game.
The Cardinals aren’t that good at the plate and it’s always better to bet the under on them this season, especially at home where only 20 out of their 51 games have gone over the total. Meanwhile, the Braves have seen 29 out of their 50 road games this season hit under.
Fried is a lefty and he should find success against a struggling offense. Lester meanwhile is a veteran who knows how to minimize damage. Atlanta’s bullpen is pitching to a 2.14 ERA while St. Louis’ relievers have an equally good 2.72 ERA.
The under has hit in four out of their last five head to head meetings in St. Louis, so I think this one goes that direction too.
Prediction: Under 8.5
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