MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Braves vs. Cardinals: Will Struggles Continue for Smyly & Happ? (Wednesday, August 4)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Braves vs. Cardinals: Will Struggles Continue for Smyly & Happ? (Wednesday, August 4) article feature image
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Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Drew Smyly.

  • The Atlanta Braves take on the St. Louis Cardinals in Wednesday's Major League Baseball action.
  • Inconsistency has created frustration for the Braves, who turn to pitcher Drew Smyly to get things going in the right direction.
  • Kenny Ducey breaks down the matchup below and explains why he's forecasting plenty of runs in this showdown.

Braves vs. Cardinals Odds

Braves Odds -110
Cardinals Odds -110
Over/Under 9 (-110 / -110)
Time 8:15 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday morning via DraftKings.

The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are both fighting hard to climb the ladder in their respective divisions, so every game counts at this point. Both have begun to hit the ball much better over the last couple of weeks, and will confront very weak pitchers in Wednesday’s showdown.

Is it as simple as hitting the over on the total and never looking back? Let’s dig into the numbers a bit here.

Inconsistent Performances Defining Atlanta

For the last 17 games, the story has remained the same for the Braves. After a win comes a loss. Atlanta has failed to build any sort of momentum as it tries desperately to make up ground on a weak New York Mets team in first place, though it’s not as if they’re letting things get away, either.

Strangely enough, in those last 17 games, this team has perfectly alternated between winning and losing contests.

Perhaps this game can tell a different story and the Braves can secure a series win. They’re playing a a soft Cardinals team that has its work cut out for it if it wants to earn a spot in the playoffs. The issue is Atlanta won’t have one of its front-end starters toeing the rubber. Instead, it’ll be Drew Smyly.

The lefty hasn’t exactly been bad this year, but he hasn’t been good. His strikeouts are at a low, sitting just above 20%, and the story’s been the same with his poor walk numbers.

The Statcast numbers aren’t all that bad, though, with his hard-hit rate coming down a bit off of the pace it was at in 2020 and his xERA sitting at 4.84. His fastball, which he throws 49.6% of the time, will be the pitch to watch here. It’s made or broken his starts, and it’s been the source of tons of misery.

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St. Louis Hoping for Quality Start From Happ

The first of two pitching debuts for the Cardinals didn’t go so well Tuesday, with Jon Lester getting rocked for five runs in the first inning. That said, St. Louis hopes things can turn around with another veteran lefty acquisition on the hill.

J.A. Happ gets the ball, as St. Louis tries to get back in the race and the Cardinals will be hoping for a drastic turnaround from what we saw in Minnesota.

Happ ranked in the bottom 11% of all qualified pichers in xwOBA, xSLG, barrel rate, strikeout rate and whiff rate. The good thing we can say is he remained solid in the walk department with a BB% of just 7 percent. Happ hsan’t been a great strikeout pitcher for some time now, but he’s normally been able to induce enough soft contact to remain an effective big-league pitcher.

This season has seen Happ tank with a 42.5% hard-hit rate, which was an 8% climb from last year and .363 xwOBA that’s up from .279 last year. He’s given up more fly balls and his fastball has been hit very hard.

On the bright side for Happ, the Braves have just a 94 wRC+ to rank 21st against lefties. The bad news is that St. Louis is one spot behind Atlanta with a 93 wRC+ against southpaws. While both pitchers here may be struggling, both offenses have struggled in this split.

Braves-Cardinals Pick

Admittedly, it’s very difficult to figure out which one of these pitchers will struggle more, which is why we have a Pick’em line. I’m more interested in taking the total, though, with two offenses that have shown signs of life lately. Atlanta’s hit .262 over the last two weeks, while St. Louis has posted a 106 wRC+ to rank 10th in baseball during that span.

Also, St. Louis has an above-average mark of weighted runs per 100 fastballs, and Atlanta isn’t far behind. It’s also worth noting that while the Braves are further back against fastballs, it’s probably going against the weaker pitcher.

I couldn’t have less faith in either of these hurlers and think this score will go to the moon.

Pick: Over 9 (-110)

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