MLB Picks: Braves at Cardinals Odds and Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 8/22/2013
For the next four days starting with Thursday’s nights clash, the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals will battle it out at Busch Stadium in a showdown between two of the best teams in the National League. Game 1 is set to get underway at 8:15 p.m. (ET), and it will be broadcast nationally on the MLB Network.
The Braves continue to coast towards the postseason with a 15-game lead over Washington in the NL East. After taking two of three from the Nationals this past weekend, they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Mets on Tuesday night as +143 road underdogs in a quick two-game series that concludes this Wednesday afternoon. Atlanta is now 6-4 in its last 10 games and 32-31 on the road this year.
St. Louis lost to Milwaukee 6-3 as a +118 road underdog on Tuesday night to fall two games in back of Pittsburgh in the race for the NL Central title. That three-game series wraps things up on Wednesday as well. The Cardinals are 73-53 overall, and they return home for this series with a 36-23 record at Busch Stadium this season.
Braves vs. Cardinals Betting Storylines
Atlanta’s main issue coming down the stretch is staying motivated given the fact that it has basically clinched its division with more than a full month of games to play. After reeling off 14 straight victories that started with a three-game sweep of St. Louis at home to build the huge lead in the East, the Braves have gone 5-4 in their last nine games. They have scored a total of 34 runs over stretch but remain the second-highest scoring team in the NL with an average of 4.5 runs a game.
They are also ranked second in the league in pitching with a team ERA of 3.19. Atlanta will go with Paul Maholm as its starter for Thursday night. The left-hander will make his first start since spending a stint on the DL with a bruised left wrist. He comes into this game with an overall record of 9-9 and an ERA of 4.41. Maholm is 4-7 against St. Louis over the course of his career with a 4.06 ERA.
The Cardinals remain in the middle of a three-team dogfight for the NL Central crown. Not only do they trail the Pirates by a couple of games, but they also have Cincinnati breathing down their neck at 3.5 games back. St. Louis has hung tough with six wins in its last eight games, but with a combined 13 straight games against both these division foes looming on the schedule right after this series, there is a sense of urgency for a continued strong showing against the Braves.
Fortunately, St. Louis still has the most productive lineup in the NL in averaging 4.9 runs a game. The pitching staff has also done its job this season with a team ERA of 3.39, which is ranked fifth in the NL. Look for Joe Kelly to get the start for the Cardinals in this game. He comes in as the hottest pitcher in the rotation over the past month with three shutouts in his last five starts. Overall, the right-hander is 4-3 with a 3.01 ERA.
Braves at Cardinals MLB Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has opened the Braves as +124 road underdogs for Thursday night’s series opener with St. Louis listed as a -134 home favorite. The total has been set at 8.5.
The Braves are 6-1 in their last seven games on the road and 5-2 in their last seven games against the NL Central. The total has stayed “under” in four of their last seven outings.
The Cardinals are 6-1 in Kelly’s last seven starts and 6-3 in their last nine games against teams from the NL East. The total has stayed under in four of their last seven games as well.
Head-to-head in this matchup, Atlanta has won eight of the last 10 meetings. And while the total stayed under in all three games this season, it went “over” in the previous seven contests.
MLB Picks: Braves at Cardinals Predictions
Everything points towards the Cardinals grabbing the early edge in this showdown with a win on Thursday night. Motivation is clearly in their favor, and they are playing this game at home. However, the clincher is having Kelly on the mound verses a pitcher that has not made a start since July 20. Look for Maholm to carry some rust into this game, and look for the NL’s highest-scoring team to take full advantage of it.
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