The Wild Card Games in each league are now complete, and it’s time to start the Divisional Round of the MLB Playoffs. The Atlanta Braves will be hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in one of the best-of-five series that begins on Thursday. This series features a pair of division winners, and both teams have plenty of momentum.
St. Louis was the best team in the National League during the second half of the season, and it carried them to a National League Central Division Championship. The Cardinals finished the year with a 91-71 record, including a huge six-game winning streak in September. Atlanta led nearly wire-to-wire in the NL East and cruised to a division title. The Braves finished the regular season with a record of 97-65. Atlanta is listed at -140 for Game 1 of this series.
Cardinals Need Quality Start From Mikolas
The St. Louis Cardinals need a quality start from Miles Mikolas in this game to get them off to a good start. Mikolas was the Cardinals ace a season ago but went just 9-14 with a 4.16 earned run average during the regular season. St. Louis doesn’t have a very dominant bullpen, but they have found a way to piece things together most nights. The Cardinals will need Mikolas to give them at least six innings in this game.
Paul Goldschmidt is in his first season with the St. Louis Cardinals, and he led the team in several offensive categories. Goldschmidt had 34 home runs and 97 runs batted in this season and had a monster month of September. Young players such as Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader give the Cardinals some energy, but they need their big guns to hit in this series.
Acuna, Freeman Powering Braves Lineup
The Atlanta Braves have a solid mix of future stars and proven veterans, and their offense was one of the best in baseball this season. Ronald Acuna Jr. led the team with 41 home runs this season to go along with 37 stolen bases and looks like a future MVP of the National League. Freddie Freeman led the team with a .389 on-base percentage to go along with 121 runs batted in. The Braves have plenty of other talent in their lineup, but these two stars will likely carry the team in this series.
Atlanta will send veteran Dallas Keuchel to the mound for Game 1, even though he didn’t start the season with the team. Keuchel went 8-8 with a 3.75 earned run average during the regular season but has a history of pitching well in the playoffs. Atlanta has a much better bullpen than the Cardinals and will be tough to beat if they get a lead.
Braves Win Series Opener Behind Kuechel
Even though neither team will be trotting out a real ace in this game, the pitching matchup definitely favors the Atlanta Braves. Keuchel has some postseason experience, and he should pitch well in this game. St. Louis just doesn’t always score runs with consistency, and that will likely haunt them in this series. Bet the Atlanta Braves -140 to win the series opener over the St. Louis Cardinals in this game.
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