The Braves open a four-game series with Cardinals on Thursday, looking to recover from an agonizing sweep at the hands of the Red Sox over the past two days. The Atlanta pitching staff allowed ten runs in each game, effectively wasting a mini resurgence from the offense. As St. Louis arrives, the Braves will turn to Charlie Morton as they look to find some stability on the mound.
Morton enters play on Thursday having produced a 5-3 record with a 4.50 ERA in 13 starts this season. The right-hander also boasts a 10.2 K/9, which means his surface stats are hardly untenable. The frustrating aspect of Morton’s season thus far has been his inability to avoid big innings. Recently the 37-year-old has been victimized by singular big innings, which have ruined otherwise impressive outings. A 3.47 xFIP confirms that some bad luck has played a role in the inflated ERA for Morton, as does his 17.1% HR/FB rate, which would be the highest mark across a full season for his career.
The Cardinals offense is around league average, ranking ninth in the National League in runs scored this season. The offseason addition of Nolan Arenado has, predictably, given them a boost alongside Paul Goldschmidt. Those two powerful right-handed bats are joined by three young contributors in Tommy Edman, Dylan Carlson, and Tyler O’Neill. Throw in Yadier Molina and you can see that Charlie Morton will have quite the task against a deep lineup.
John Gant will start the game for St. Louis, entering play with a 4-4 record and a 3.36 ERA. Contrary to Morton, Gant has enjoyed very favorable luck for the Cardinals this season, as his 5.46 xFIP would suggest. The game between the two should close over time, the Braves just have to hope that they can be the beneficiaries.
Some may remember Gant as a member of the Braves farm system, as he was acquired from the Mets along with Rob Whalen in exchange for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. 16 months later, the Braves dealt Gant to the Cardinals for Jaime Garcia, who was later dealt for Huascar Ynoa.
The Braves have seen their offense rejuvenated over the past three games, which bodes well for them against Gant. The club enters play 7.5 games behind the Mets in the division, which indicates that some consistency must be found soon, especially amongst the pitching staff. Charlie Morton will get the first chance to right the ship for Atlanta and start the series with a bang.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, June 17th, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Bally Sports South
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network