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Braves vs Cardinals MLB Betting Preview | Odds, Picks, Predictions

Braves vs Cardinals MLB Betting Preview | Odds, Picks, Predictions article feature image

Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Olson.

  • The Braves travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals on Monday at Busch Stadium.
  • Atlanta and St. Louis feature lineups loaded with All-Star hitters, which could make it tough for starters Charlie Morton and Jake Woodford.
  • Continue reading for a betting preview and pick for Braves vs. Cardinals.

Braves vs. Cardinals Odds

Monday, April 3
7:45 PM
Braves Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
-120 / -100
Cardinals Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
-120 / -100
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

If you pull up the National League pennant odds, you’ll find both the Braves and Cardinals among the top-five betting favorites. Each is expected to win their division and projected to have one of the best offenses in baseball.

Atlanta basically got an extended Spring Training, starting the year against the lowly Nationals and going 2-1 after beating up on them in the first two games. The Braves outscored the Nat’s 15-7 and showed why their offense is so highly regarded.

There was no grace period for the Cardinals, however. They began the year against the vaunted Blue Jays lineup. After dropping an incredible 10-9 game on Opening Day, St. Louis won back-to-back contests and put up 22 runs in the process.

Will the battle-tested Cardinals have the advantage in another series between likely-playoff teams? Continue reading for my Braves-Cardinals series opener preview and pick.

Atlanta Braves

Death, Taxes, Charlie Morton. The 39-year-old from Connecticut is about as reliable as they come. He has a 4.03 career ERA through 15 seasons and has posted an ERA between 3.00-4.50 in eight of the past 10 seasons.

The good news for Morton is he posted a 4.34 ERA and a better 3.60 xFIP last season. His K% was at 28.2%, even higher than his career average. The bad news is his stellar ground-ball rate — which earned him the nickname “Ground Chuck” — was down to 39.6%, a career low and 10% down from the previous year. His hard-hit rate was also at a career-high.

I would rank the Braves lineup up there with any team in baseball. From top to bottom, everybody in the order can mash. Atlanta ranked third in the league in wOBA last season and got hits, runs, and RBI from eight of their nine hitters in the first three games of the season.

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St. Louis Cardinals

On the other side of Morton’s 322 career starts, will be Jake Woodford and his 10 career starts. Woodford worked mainly out of the bullpen last season as he made 27 appearances, but just one start. However, with Adam Wainwright beginning the year on the Injured List, Woodford, following an excellent spring, earned a chance in the rotation.

Woodford found success out of the bullpen last season with a 2.23 ERA and logged a 2.04 ERA in five appearances (two starts) during Spring Training. Woodford allowed just four runs over 17 2/3 innings and struck out 18. Both of his starts were scoreless performances and his fastball velocity was up.

I watched all three Cardinals games this weekend. On a team with reigning MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, rookie Jordan Walker impressed me most. The No. 4-ranked prospect in baseball started 4-for-12 with a double, two RBI and a stolen base. He registered an exit velocity over 100 mph on six of the 11 balls he put in play.

Braves vs. Cardinals Betting Pick

While the St. Louis lineup is as good as any in the league with Brendan Donovan, Goldschmidt, Arenado and Walker at the top, I’ll still take the depth of the Braves bats. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Matt Olson are the stars, but defending NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris, alongside Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Travis d’Arnaud, Orlando Arcia and Marcell Ozuna present danger at every turn. Olson has started the year 4-for-11 with two home runs and a double.

Woodford showed improvement this spring, but still has just 10 starts under his belt and has never completed six innings in a game. He has limited strikeout upside and the Braves aren’t a team an opponent wants putting a lot of balls in play.

As for Morton, he still has well-above-average strikeout numbers, but his biggest area of concern was his lowered ground-ball rate. That has always been his bread and butter, and I’ll bank on a bounce back in that department. He started last season with a 37.6% ground-ball rate in the first half of the year and finished with a 43% rate in the second half.

I expect to see him get back to that rate this season and to continue to boast one of the game’s best curveballs. Morton has also had success against this Cardinals lineup. Arenado has just a .247xBA and Goldschmidt has just as many strikeouts as hits against Morton.

Neither bullpens used their big arms Sunday and Atlanta should have an advantage at the plate throughout the order, and on the mound. Back Atlanta to spoil St. Louis’s home opener at -125 and play to -135.

Pick: Braves Moneyline | Play to -135

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