St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves Pick Game 1

by | Oct 3, 2019 | mlb

St. Louis Cardinals (91-71) vs. Atlanta Braves (97-65), 10/3/19
Time: 5 pm ET Thursday, Oct. 3
Where: SunTrust Park, Cumberland, GA
Listed Pitchers: Miles Mikolas (9-14, 4.16 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) vs. Dallas Keuchel (8-8, 3.75, 1.37)

Moneyline: Atlanta -135/St. Louis +125 (BetAnySports)
Over/Under: 9

Division champions clash when the Braves and Cardinals open their best-of-five National League divisional-round playoff series Thursday afternoon down in Georgia. Atlanta ran away with the NL East this season, while St. Louis came on late to take the NL Central. And with home-field advantage, the Braves are lined as -145 favorites to win this series. How are we playing Game 1 with our free MLB pick?

MLB Betting Odds

MLB’s playoff betting odds opened Atlanta and Keuchel at around -130 for Game 1 of this series over St. Louis and Mikolas, with an over/under of 8.5 runs. Early betting action then bumped the Braves to -135 and the total to nine.

Cardinals vs. Braves Set-Up

St. Louis won its last game of the regular season, beating the Cubs 9-0 Sunday, to finish 91-71 overall, claiming the NL Central title by two games over what was a surging Milwaukee team. The Cardinals lost four in a row last week to make things interesting but got another good outing from starter Jack Flaherty Sunday and a bunch of runs to clinch the crown. So St. Louis is back in the MLB playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Atlanta, meanwhile, broke to a huge lead in the NL East earlier this season and basically coasted home to a second straight division title. The Braves actually lost five of their last six games to close out the regular season, but they weren’t going to catch the Dodgers in the race for the best record in the National League, and the Cardinals weren’t going to catch them. So last week didn’t really matter.

Atlanta took the season series from St. Louis four games to two.

Game 1’s Starting Arms

Lefty Keuchel, by our stringent standards, finished 12/19 on quality starts this season, but only one for his last three. Last Thursday he gave up four runs and seven hits, including two home runs, through five innings of a 4-2 Braves loss to the Mets. And over his last three starts, he’s allowed 12 runs – 11 earned – and 21 hits through 16 innings, with only eight strikeouts.

On the season Atlanta finished 10-9 with Keuchel, but 0-3 over his last three starts.

This start will be Keuchel’s first start against the Cardinals since 2016 when he was with Houston, and that’s kind of already a long time ago.

Mikolas finished 11/32 on quality starts this year and while he’s also only two for his last six he’s actually been alright as of late. Most recently, 11 days ago, Mikolas held the Cubs to two runs – one earned – and eight hits through 7 2/3 innings of a 3-2 St. Louis win. And over his last six starts, he’s allowed 12 ER and 32 hits through 35 2/3 innings.

The Cardinals finished 17-15 with Mikolas this year, 5-2 over his last seven starts.

Over three career starts against the Braves, one earlier this season and two last season, Mikolas allowed six runs and 18 hits through 18 1/3 innings. Thanks to some poor run support the Cardinals lost two of those three games.

Game 1’s Batting Splits

St. Louis batted .247/.330/.425 against left-handed pitching this season. Atlanta batted .258/.339/.451 against right-handed pitching this season.

The Bullpens

The Cardinals bullpen posted a 3.82 ERA this season, along with a 1.22 WHIP, while holding opponents to a Major League-low .670 OPS. Numbers like those are why we rank this unit among the top two or three bullpens in Baseball. The Braves pen put up a 4.18 ERA this season and a 1.39 WHIP while allowing a .750 OPS.

MLB Betting Trends

  • St. Louis finished 41-40 on the road this season.
  • St. Louis played 18-16 against left-handed starters this season.
  • Atlanta finished 50-31 at home this season.
  • Atlanta played 74-51 against right-handed starters this season.

Totals Report

  • Unders played 85-69 in Cardinals games this season.
  • Unders played 78-76 in Braves games this season.
  • Unders played 41-36 in games played at SunTrust Park this season.
  • Unders are a combined 32-15 with Keuchel and Mikolas this season.

Free MLB Pick

We’re calling Thursday’s pitching match-up a draw, and while Atlanta might own a slight edge with the sticks St. Louis holds the advantage in the bullpen comparison. So we see good baseball betting value here with the Cardinals at the underdog price.

Take the Cards +125