After a well-deserved off day Monday, the Atlanta Braves will head back out on the road Tuesday where they will begin a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves just wrapped up a grueling stretch that included a nine-game road trip through Philadelphia and New York before returning home to face the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Atlanta dropped two of the three games against Milwaukee and will come into the series with a 52-54 record. They entered play Monday in third place in the NL East standings, four games behind the Mets.
The Braves were active at the Trade Deadline, pulling off a series of deals to add four players to the roster. Alex Anthopoulos added to the team’s outfield depth with the additions of Adam Duvall from the Marlins, Jorge Soler from the Royals and Eddie Rosario from the Indians. Atlanta also added Pittsburgh closer Richard Rodriguez to the bullpen. The additions lengthen the team’s lineup and give Brian Snitker plenty of options when it comes to platoon situations in the outfield.
The Braves also got some good news this week in regards to a trio of injured players. Both Travis d’Arnaud and Huascar Ynoa began rehab assignments this week. Ian Anderson is slated to throw another side session Monday before the team departs for St. Louis and could be ready to begin a rehab assignment soon as well. Rosario is also currently on the Injured List but Alex Anthopoulos said Friday that he is nearing a return and could also begin a rehab assignment soon. So, Atlanta’s roster looks different now given the new additions and could add four more players to the mix at some point this month.
The Braves took three of the four games they played against the Cardinals in June at Truist Park but are just 25-27 on the road and just 22-28 against teams with a winning record. Atlanta, of course, hasn’t spent a day this season with a winning record and hasn’t been at the .500 mark since July 10, when they were 44-44.
St. Louis comes into the series with a 53-52 record and are currently in third place in the NL Central. They are currently in the midst of a nine-game homestand and just took two of three against the Minnesota Twins. While not really thought of as a contender this season after their 10-17 June, the Cardinals haven’t had a bad month other than that one. However, the team’s struggled to put up even average value on either side of the ball. They have a productive quintet with Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, and Dylan Carlson, but not much in the way of hitting beyond that, while the ageless Adam Wainwright has been their best hurler.
The Cardinals didn’t do a lot at the Trade Deadline but did pick up a pair of veteran starters in Jon Lester and J.A. Happ and both are scheduled to pitch in the upcoming series.
Tuesday, August 3, 8:15 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Max Fried (17 GS, 91.2 IP, 23.9 K%, 8.1 BB%, 4.32 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 104 ERA-)
Max Fried will make his 18th start of the season for the Braves in Tuesday’s series opener. Fried turned in a great performance in his last start, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out nine over seven innings. Unfortunately, he ended up on the wrong side of a 2-1 loss to the Mets. That was the second time in three starts that Fried has gone at least seven innings. He faced the Cardinals back on June 18 and held them to two hits and a run over seven innings in a Braves victory. Fried is constantly waging a war against his peripherals in one direction or another, and this season, his run prevention’s been worse than his underlying performance.
Jon Lester (16 GS, 75.1 IP, 14.9 K%, 8.5 BB%, 5.02 ERA, 5.41 FIP, 5.18 xFIP, 120 ERA-)
The Cardinals acquired Jon Lester from the Washington Nationals at the deadline in exchange for outfielder Lane Thomas. Lester struggled in 16 starts with the Nationals, posting a 5.02 ERA and a 5.41 FIP in 75 1/3 innings. His last start was on July 24 where he allowed three hits and three runs in five innings against the Orioles. He has faced the Braves twice this season allowing a combined nine hits and four runs in 10 2/3 innings.
Wednesday, August 4, 8:15 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Drew Smyly (18 GS, 92.0 IP, 20.9 K%, 8.5 BB%, 4.40 ERA, 5.04 FIP, 4.79 xFIP, 106 ERA-)
Drew Smyly will get the start for the Braves Wednesday. Smyly left his start on July 24 against the Mets after just four innings due to some knee soreness. He didn’t miss a turn but wasn’t sharp, allowing nine hits and three runs in just four innings, including a two-run homer by Pete Alonso when he was sent back out to face the lineup for a third time. Smyly needed 30 pitches to get through the first inning and labored but was able to keep the Braves in the game. He faced St. Louis back on June 20 and allowed just one hit and three walks over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, getting pulled only after losing his no-hitter in the sixth.
J.A. Happ (19 GS, 98.1 IP, 17.3 K%, 7.0 BB%, 6.77 ERA, 5.40 FIP, 5.28 xFIP, 155 ERA-)
J.A. Happ will make his first start for the Cardinals Wednesday after he was acquired from the Twins a few days ago in exchange for pitchers John Gant and Evan Sisk. Happ needed a change of scenery after struggling to the tune of a 6.77 ERA and a 5.40 FIP in 98 1/3 innings with Minnesota. He was hammered in his last start Wednesday, allowing 10 hits and nine runs in just three innings against Detroit.
Thursday, August 5, 8:15 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Touki Toussaint (3 GS, 17.0 IP, 28.2 K%, 5.6 BB%, 4.76 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 3.02 xFIP, 114 ERA-)
Touki Toussaint will be trying to bounce back from a rough outing when he takes the ball in Thursday’s series finale. Toussaint was lights out in his first two starts of the season but was unable to escape the fourth inning in Friday’s loss to the Brewers. Despite being staked to an early 4-0 lead, Toussaint was chased after allowing six hits, two walks and seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings. If he isn’t breezing through the St. Louis bats in this one, it’ll be interesting to see if the Braves actually consider pulling him before things go south.
Wade LeBlanc (16 G, 7 GS, 41.0 IP, 14.4 K%, 6.9 BB%, 4.17 ERA, 4.99 FIP, 5.35 xFIP, 102 ERA-)
Wade LeBlanc will make his eight start of the season and his seventh for the Cardinals since signing on in the middle of June. LeBlanc began the season with the Orioles and made six appearances with them before being released. He also had stints with Milwaukee and Texas before coming to St. Louis. He allowed six hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings against the Twins this past Friday. He has allowed three runs or fewer in all six of his starts for the Cardinals, albeit with terrible peripherals only propped up by a strand rate near 90 percent. He made a pair of relief appearances against Atlanta this season allowing two hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.