After splitting the series in Flushing, New York, the Braves packed up their things and flew back to the Peach State to square off in a three game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals come into this three game series with the best record in the majors at 62-37, winners of their last four, 7-3 in their last 10 games and sit atop the NL Central by two and a half games on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Atlanta comes back home to Turner Field after splitting the four game set in New York with a record of 57-45, 4-6 in their last ten, and are a comfortable eight games ahead of the second place Philadelphia Phillies.
Here are the probable starters for the three game set:
Friday: Adam Wainwright (13-5, 2.44 ERA) vs Mike Minor (9-5, 2.98 ERA)
After two shaky starts, Mike Minor has since come back to the Mike Minor we all know and love this year. Minor has allowed two runs or fewer in his last three outings and has racked up a 2.66 ERA in his last 35 starts. Against the Cardinals, Minor has no record with a 9.35 ERA and 11 strikeouts in just 9 2/3 innings pitched. In his last three starts, Minor is 1-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings pitched.
Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright has been Adam Wainwright. He leads the league in innings pitched and wins, and he has finished at least eight innings in eight of his starts. Against the Braves, Wainwright is 6-1 with a 2.98 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 48.1 strikeouts. In Wainwright’s last three starts, he’s 2-0 with an ERA of 3.00 and has 20 strikeouts with 21 innings pitched.
Saturday: Joe Kelly (1-3, 3.88 ERA) vs Julio Teheran (7-5, 3.25 ERA)
It seemed like Teheran benefited from the All-Star break in his last outing against the Mets as he pitched six great innings against a pesky Mets’ team. This will be the first start against the Cardinals Teheran has had, and hopefully Teheran can build off the momentum he had against the Mets. In Teheran’s last three starts, however, he’s 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and has struck out 12 in 18 2/3 innings pitched.
Joe Kelly meanwhile hasn’t pitched since July 12th which was a spot start against the Cubs, when he allowed one earned run on three hits and two walks in a 3-2 win over the Cubs. Like Teheran, Kelly will be making his first start against the Braves. In Kelly’s last three starts he’s posted a 1-0 record with a 3.24 ERA with 12 strikeouts and has pitched 16 2/3 innings.
Sunday: Shelby Miller (10-6, 2.77 ERA) vs Kris Medlen (6-10, 3.78 ERA)
While it’s been a rough season for Kris Medlen, he continues to battle and try and help his team pull out a victory. However, since beginning June with a pair of scoreless outings, he has posted a 5.53 ERA in the seven starts that have followed. In his career against St. Louis, he has no record with a 3.72 ERA and has struck out eight in 9 2/3 innings pitched.
For the Cardinals it’s been a pleasant surprise to have Shelby Miller take the mound night in and night out. Pitching on 12 days of rest, Miller held the Phillies scoreless for six innings, scattering three hits, in his last start. He walked one batter while striking out six. This will be the rookie Miller’s first career start versus Atlanta. In Miller’s last three starts he’s 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA and has struck out 17 batters in exactly 17 innings pitched.
It’s been no secret, the Cardinals have the best offense in the National League in terms of batting average (.278), and on-base percentage (.339). It’s safe to say that Atlanta’s pitching is going to have its hands full of work to do in order to take the series against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have the best run differential in the Majors at +142 and they seemingly have hit with runners in scoring position time after time this year.
Ever since the Braves started out 12-1 on the year, they’ve been hovering around .500. That being said the numbers show that the Cardinals can sweep this series in the blink of an eye, but don’t count out the Braves just yet. Dan Uggla has been cranking out home runs, and the offense has been showing some signs of life as of late.
This will be a huge test for the Braves to find out what exactly their second half will be like. If you’re going to be a serious contender for the World Series, the Cardinals are a perfect example of the teams that you need to beat in order to get there. My heart tells me that the Braves take two of three in the series, but realistically if the Braves are able to salvage a game out of this series, I’ll be fine with that.