This week’s Sunday Night Baseball game features the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. After the teams split the first two games of the series, the Cardinals are -145 favorites to win the rubber match at home.
Despite losing on Saturday, the Braves are still five games over .500 and just 2.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. Atlanta has also won four consecutive series, including taking two of three from the Cardinals last week, so they’ll be confident that they can win Sunday and keep rolling, having won 11 of their last 15 games.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are looking for their first series win in over three weeks. After a strong April, the Cards are just 7-15 during the month of May, dropping them to 4.5 games back in the NL Central race. A loss on Sunday and St. Louis will fall back to .500, something they don’t want with their next six games coming against division leaders.
Steady As She Goes
Jack Flaherty will get the start for St. Louis on Sunday. He’s been steady but unspectacular for most of the season, going 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA over 10 starts. On the one hand, he’s allowed more than four runs in a start just once this season. However, he’s allowed two runs or less just twice in his last seven outings. He’s usually a safe bet to give the Cardinals five or six solid innings, but he’ll need some help to get the win.
Of course, facing Atlanta’s lineup won’t be easy for Flaherty. The Braves have some heavy hitters in their order, especially with prospect Austin Riley off to a scorching hot start to his big league career. Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson have also been swinging a hot bat over the past week. Ronald Acuna has also been mashing. In fact, all four of those players have three home runs in their last seven games, so the middle of Atlanta’s order could be a challenge for Flaherty.
Me and Julio
The Braves will send Julio Teheran to the mound on Sunday. Teheran has been building off last year’s season and is once again pitching like a frontline starter. Over his 11 starts, he owns a 3.67 ERA despite a 3-4 record. He’s been sensational in May, allowing a total of two runs on 10 hits over 22.2 innings across his four starts. That includes five shutout innings against the Cardinals last week.
However, the Cardinals may have an edge after seeing Teheran recently. Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter are also among the hottest hitters in the St. Louis lineup right now. Those two are a combined 10 for 27 (.370) against Teheran. Marcell Ozuna is also starting to heat up and is 17 for 47 (.362) with three home runs against Teheran. Paul Goldschmidt is also a constant threat despite poor career numbers against Teheran.
Trust the Trends
On paper, this game is a virtual toss-up. But the Braves are obviously the hotter team right now, and Teheran has been dominant lately. The Cardinals will do a little damage against Teheran, but Flaherty isn’t likely to pitch a gem against Atlanta’s lineup. Bet on the Braves as underdogs on Sunday night.