Thursday’s are travel days and thus we usually get lighter schedules as we have today.
That being said, there’s still some value on the board, so check out our Braves vs. Cardinals MLB Pick from Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Braves vs. Cardinals Betting Odds
St. Louis Cardinals
Over 9 (-110)
Under 9 (-110)
The Braves continue their push for yet another NL East crown tonight as they sit 2.5 games back of the first-place Mets with every single game crucial for the next two months through the end of September.
They will look for a boost tonight from young right-hander Touki Toussiant who has enjoyed a nice, albeit brief season in the big leagues after a tough go of it in the shortened 2020 season.
Toussaint was roughed up not only to the tune of an 8.88 ERA last season, but also posted a 6.83 xERA and 7.05 FIP across 24.1 innings that included five starts and a couple relief outings.
He actually debuted in the bigs as a 22-year-old in the 2018 when he pitched to a 4.03 ERA/3.78 FIP in 29 frames. This season, he’s the owner of a 4.76 ERA, but the peripherals are fonder of his work as he also owns a 4.17 FIP, 4.05 xERA, 3.02 xFIP and 3.25 SIERA. He’s racking up punchouts at a 10.59 K/9 on the season and keeping walks in check at a fantastic 2.12 BB/9 clip.
The problem has been the long ball as he’s allowed 1.59 HR/9, or three homers in 17 innings as he’s made just three big-league starts this season after rehabbing an injury.
All that said, while he hurled 13.2 innings of two-run ball with 15 strikeouts against just two walks in his first two starts of the season, he was roughed up for seven runs in just 3.1 innings by the Brewers his last time out.
Needless to say, a bounce-back effort will be on the wish list for the righty tonight.
Boosted Up Bats
The Braves were already a handful games back of the Mets prior to the All-Star break when superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. went down for the season — and much longer — with a torn ACL. For some, it was doom for the Braves, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos wasn’t having that.
The Braves top decision-maker went out and acquired Adam Duvall from the Miami Marlins as well as fellow outfielder Eddie Rosario from the Cleveland Indians as he clearly believes his group is still good enough to win the division, and he just might be right.
While the long-term effects of the trades remain to be seen, the Braves’ overall offense has indeed slipped this season after posting some of the best numbers in the league last season. The slip hasn’t been too exaggerated, however, as they are still tied for ninth with a .323 wOBA on the season while hitting for serious power in the form of a .186 ISO that is tied with the Minnesota Twins for the third-best number in baseball.
That said, it’s not exactly the best matchup tonight. They’ll face a left-handed starter in this one, so we’ll note that they sit tied for 17th with a .315 wOBA off lefties, although the power remains in spades as their .184 ISO off southpaws checks in at second league wide.
On the road, the offense and power sink as they sit 17th with a .310 wOBA and the power regresses to a .170 ISO, although that’s still good for the eighth-most powerful road offense in baseball.
After scoring 13 runs through the first two games of this series, we’ll see if they can keep up the good work tonight.
The Braves boasted a deep and dominant bullpen in the shortened 2020 season, but that has not been the case this time around as some pieces have moved on, such as Mark Melancon and Darren O’Day.
They haven’t been disastrous, but more in the middle of the pack as their 4.27 ERA sits 17th in the league with a FIP of 4.11 that checks in at 13th.
Walks and home runs haven’t been much of an issue, but they’re also not missing many bats as their 8.94 K/9 sits in a tie with the Texas Rangers for 24th.
As for the batted-ball data, it’s of the middle-of-the-pack variety with their hard-hit rate sitting at 38.6% and 18th in the league while their 7.4% barrel rate tying for 12th. It would appear the numbers are all aligning as more or less a middle-of-the-pack bullpen in Atlanta.
They’ve done a good job in helping keep the Cardinals to five runs through the first two games of this series.
The Cardinals’ playoff hopes are on life support at the moment as they sit 11 games back of the first-place Brewers in the NL Central and also 7.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot in the NL. They would need an actual miracle to get into the postseason.
Nonetheless, they love to play spoiler as well and they’ll look to do that behind the left arm of veteran journeyman Wade LeBlanc whose been quite good since behind claimed by the Cardinals.
Between the O’s and Cards this season, LeBlanc has pitched to a 4.17 ERA, although it would appear that he’s been pretty fortunate for such a solid ERA as he also owns a 4.99 FIP, 5.39 xERA, 5.35 xFIP and 5.11 SIERA.
Since coming over to the Cardinals, however, LeBlanc has allowed three runs or less in all six of his starts and one run or less in four of the six, good for a 3.09 ERA.
He doesn’t get deep into games, however, having pitched less than five innings in three of his six starts with the Braves, although that’s likely due to getting stretched out after spending the earlier part of the season as a reliever. He did pitch 5.2 innings of one-run ball his last time out.
The 36-year-old will look to build on that effort tonight.
Can’t Rake Righties
The Cardinals offense has grossly underperformed expectations this season, especially the raised ones once they acquired Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies.
It’s not fault of Arenado’s as he made another All-Star appearance in his old stompin’ grounds, but the Cardinals enter this one with with the MLB-worst Arizona D-backs for 25th with a .300 wOBA on the season, and a lot of that has to do with their work against righties.
Their work has actually been about the same against lefties and righties, but their .299 wOBA off righties sits in a share of 23rd. Hitting righties is obviously important when we factor in that the teams below them in that category are the worst clubs in baseball such as the Orioles, Rangers, D-backs, Pirates, Royals and Marlins. That’s not the company you want to be in.
They’ve also been unable to get their offense going at home as they sit 26th with a .302 wOBA at Busch Stadium this season.
With five runs in two games so far this series, that home offense has failed to show up to this point once again.
More Middling Relief
While the Braves are about middle of the pack in most major bullpen categories, the same can largely be said of the Cardinals, at least in the one that matters most.
Entering this one, that Cardinals bullpen ranks 18th with a 4.33 ERA on the season and 17th with a 4.26 FIP. However, they also rank last in both walks (5.20 BB/9) and xFIP (5.02). At the same time, they also sit second with a 0.72 HR/9 on the season thanks to a 35.6% hard-hit rate that ranks fifth and a 6.4% barrel rate that checks in as fourth-best in baseball.
Seemingly, the pieces are there in that bullpen for the group to be very good, but they’ve merely been roughly league average thanks to a plethora of walks. Their ability to keep in the ball in the yard has been a savior considering the damage that could have been done given the free pass issues.
As they continue their playoff push, I like the Braves in this one after looking at the odds provided by BetUS.
Sure, the Cardinals apparently play their best baseball at home given their 30-23 record at home, however the Braves’ 27-27 road record is the best in the NL East and tied for fifth-best in the NL.
The Braves also have a +57 run differential on the season, miles ahead of the Cardinals and their -45 mark.
The Braves’ road offense is right in line with the Cardinals’ home offense and they also hit left-handed pitching better than the Cards hit righties. I also like Touissant over LeBlanc to start this one.
Add it up and I’ll simply grab the Braves here on the moneyline at -115 odds.
As a recent addition to the GamblingSites.org team, James Peralta has been covering everything about casinos, sports, and laws that are specific to online gambling in Canada. James started writing about sports in 2007 during his first year at U of T Mississauga. ...
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