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How're you doing Albert? (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE)

Season Preview: Braves @ Cardinals

This series should be a shoot out. The Cardinals and the Braves go at it as the National Leagues top two offenses. To be fair the Cardinals are probably in a league of their own right now with a team line of .287/.357/.467 compared to the Braves team line of .265/.330/.414. The Cardinals also have a wOBA of .362 compared to the Braves .327.

St. Louis also has a slight edge in pitching with a 3.07 ERA, 3.26 FIP and 3.32 SIERA while the Braves have a 4.25 ERA, 3.75 FIP, and a 3.75 SIERA.

The Cardinals are tied for the best record in baseball with 20 wins and 11 losses (Rangers, Orioles, Rays, and Dodgers) and have pretty much said “Oh, you don’t want to play for us Pujols? That’s fine we don’t really need you or your ridiculous contract.” Check out Grant Brisbee’s look at the Cardinals if you haven’t been following the team.

Pitching Matchups

Friday May 11, 8:15

On the mound for the Braves: Mike Minor

On the mound for the Cardinals: Jaime Garcia

Minor and Jaime have both been a bit inconsistent this season with Minor having more rough starts of late. Jaime’s ERA and FIP both look better than Minor’s: 3.76/3.08 compared to 4.14/3.39 but Minor’s K/9 and BB/9 have been much better: 8.12/2.87 compared to Jaime’s 5.17/2.82.

Saturday May 12, 7:15

On the mound for the Braves: Brandon Beachy

On the mound for the Cardinals: Adam Wainwright

Wainwright started the year off HORRIBLY, but has figured it out in has past couple starts. Meanwhile, Brandon Beachy has been the best starter in the Braves rotation this year. It looks to be a great matchup against possibly each team’s most talented pitchers (yes I realize that is a bold statement, but I will stand by it).

Sunday May 13, 2:15

On the mound for the Braves: Tommy Hanson

On the mound for the Cardinals: Lance Lynn

If you were a casual fan you would probably look at these two names and assume the Braves had an easy advantage. You would be wrong. Lynn has been perfect so far this season and Hanson has been… well all over the place. His velocity is down, his fastball is flat, and he hasn’t looked like the ace he is supposed to be. Lynn on the other hand has made a fantastic transition from the bullpen to the rotation and is 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA, 2.90 FIP, a K/9 of 8.61, and a BB/9 of 2.86.

Rolling & Strolling

Rolling:

Michael Bourn steals bases alright. (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE)

Atlanta:

  • Michael Bourn- It seems like Bourn has been hot for the entire season at this point and in the past 7 games he is coming down to Earth a bit with a .300/.382/.367 line. What has been most impressive to me about Bourn in this little run is the amount of walks he has taken. In the past 7 games he is walking at an 11.8% rate, noticeably higher than his career rate of 8.6%. On the year his BB% is at 10.0%.
  • Freddie Freeman- Freeman hasn’t been striking out as much the past 7 games (just 3) good for a K% of 9.7%. Not only is that unheard of for Freeman but it is the second lowest K% by any Brave in the same period. He is hitting .308/.387/.654 with 2 homers, 5 runs, and 7 RBI.
  • Chipper Jones- Chipper is hitting .348/.375/.565 in his past 5 games. He is hitting the ball well but it will be interesting to see if he keeps walking as little as he is. On the season his BB% is at 7.1%. That is less than half of his career mark of 14.3% and pretty much unheard of for the old guy.
  • Jason Heyward- although Heyward is only hitting .182 his past 7 games, he is tied for the lead in that span with .4 WAR (Bourn and Freeman are the others). The reason is because of his OBP of .379 and SLG of .545. He has 2 homeruns a stolen base and a ridiculous 20.7% BB%

St. Louis:

  • Pretty much every body. This team is killing the ball right now. Furcal, Holliday, Craig, Freese, and Beltran are playing like their lives depend on it and they have led the team to an offense comparable with the Texas Rangers. Who’s Albert Pujols again?

Strolling:

Atlanta:

  • Brian McCann- I went over McCann’s struggles yesterday but that doesn’t mean I can just give him a mulligan on the strolling list. He is hitting .176/.300/.176 in 5 games and twice as many strikeouts as walks.
  • Tyler Pastornicky- Pastornicky is hitting just .200/.190/.200 in his past 7 games and not taken a single walk in that span. He still hasn’t gotten a stolen base yet on the season which might be the biggest (and only) surprise TP has given us.

St. Louis:

  • Jon Jay- These two guys have to feel awful in the middle of a lineup that is killing. Jay is hitting .250/.333/.333 in the past 6.
  • Yadier Molina- Molina started out hot, but during his past 6 games, he is sporting a triple slash of .238/.273/.333. The one good thing you can say about Molina is that he hasn’t struck out in that period.

Wrap Up

It’s hard to not like the Cardinals in this series. Their offense is better, their pitching is better, and they are hot. I don’t see the Braves getting swept, simply because our offense has been really really good as well but I would consider it a win if we just managed 1 of 3.

Prediction

Braves take 1 game out of 3.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Series Preview St. Louis Cardinals

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