The Atlanta Braves conclude their three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night. After splitting the first two games, the Braves are slight -110 favorites in the rubber match.
With Wednesday’s 4-0 win over St. Louis, the Braves went a game over .500 on the season. They’ve also won four of their last five games to get back on track after a four-game losing streak last week. More importantly, they’ve pulled within 2.5 games of the Phillies at the top of the NL East standings.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are trying to get themselves out of a spiral. St. Louis is just 4-10 in the month of May, a stretch that has dropped them to third place in the NL Central. After a strong April, the Cardinals are still three games over .500, but they need the confidence that comes with winning a series if they’re going to keep pace with the Cubs and Brewers.
Keeping It Wainwright
Adam Wainwright will get the ball in Thursday’s rubber match. The 37-year-old is putting together a solid season, going 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA over his first eight starts. Those numbers are far from spectacular, but Wainwright has certainly bounced back from an injury-plagued 2018 season and is pitching as well as he has in a few years. He’s also allowed two runs or less in five of his eight starts, so he’s giving the Cardinals a chance more times than not.
More importantly, Wainwright has a good history against Braves slugger Freddie Freeman, who’s just 4 for 19 (.211) in his career against Wainwright. If Wainwright can take Freeman out of the equation, the rest of the Atlanta lineup is mired in a slump right now. Of course, Wainwright doesn’t have much experience facing Atlanta’s younger hitters, so the likes of Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, and top prospect Austin Riley could all be X-factors.
On the Rise
The Braves will send Julio Teheran to the mound Thursday to oppose Wainwright and the Cardinals. Teheran has had some ups and downs early in the season; he’s just 2-4 with a 4.26 ERA through nine starts. But he’s allowed just one run on five hits over 12 innings in his last two starts. Granted, one of those starts came against the lowly Marlins, but Teheran seems to have found his groove in May.
Alas, Teheran has consistently struggled in his career against the likes of Marcell Ozuna and Matt Carpenter, who are a combined 24 for 59 (.407) against him. Teheran’s saving grace could be that Carpenter has been terrible this year, and Ozuna is in a slump at the moment. He’s also owned the likes of Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina. If he can keep those guys from doing damage, Teheran should be in good shape.
The Hot Hand
On paper, this game is a virtual coin-flip. However, it never hurts to go with the hot hand, or at least the less-cold hand. The Cardinals are in a big-time slump and were shut out on Wednesday night. Bet on the Braves winning Thursday’s game at home.