Braves vs. Cardinals Odds, Preview, Prediction: Atlanta Looks to Sweep Redbirds (Thursday, August 5)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint.
- Atlanta is undefeated following outings in which Touki Toussaint allowed seven or more runs.
- After a 9-5 loss in his last start, Toussaint will look for a bounce-back performance to close out this series.
- Wade LeBlanc will be more than busy Thursday against a Braves team that loves to hit the long ball.
Braves vs. Cardinals Odds
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of early Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.|
The Atlanta Braves rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 Wednesday. It was Atlanta’s second straight win and sixth in its last ten games. The Braves will try to complete the sweep with Touki Toussaint on the mound for the series finale. Wade LeBlanc will oppose him for the Cardinals.
The Braves still have plenty to play for this season as they sit just 2.5 games out of first place behind the Mets and the Phillies. That’s a much different situation than the Cardinals find themselves in, as their chances of reaching the postseason are remote at best, given they’re 11 games out of first place.
With motivation clearly on the Braves’ side, can they deliver another fatal blow to the Cardinals? Let’s see if that’s enough to warrant a play on the visitors in this matchup.
All Eyes On Toussaint
Toussaint will look to bounce back from a disastrous outing last Friday against Milwaukee in which he failed to make it out of the fourth inning. After getting staked to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, he gave it all back and then some by allowing four runs in the third inning and three more in the following inning. He’ll carry a 1-2 record into Thursday’s contest along with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.
His outing against the Brewers was quite an implosion because it looked like he was cruising through the first two innings. It was by far the worst of his three starts this season as his ERA climbed more than three runs.
If you look at Toussaint’s numbers across the board, the first thing that will jump out at you is his home runs allowed. Toussaint has a 1.59 HR/9 ratio and a 27.3% HR/FB rate. However, he also has a 2.0 GB/FB ratio, which tells me that he has been able to keep the ball down for the most part. Unfortunately, the balls the hitters hit in the air just happened to leave the ballpark.
Outside of the home run ball, Touissant has been okay on the mound. He’s striking out 10.59 batters per nine innings, and he’s reduced his walks per nine innings from 5.92 to 2.12.
I think the key thing to watch for Toussaint will be his walks. If he can control that, he might avoid putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard. The home runs are still certainly a concern, but I’m not going to overreact after one bad outing. If there were ever a time to jump back on the Toussaint train, it’d be now. He’ll be facing a Cardinals lineup that’s ranked 24th with 116 home runs, 24th with a .153 ISO, and 26th with a .300 wOBA.
Pitching Struggles In St. Louis
In June, St. Louis signed LeBlanc as a free agent after he received his release from Texas. The Cardinals needed some bullpen help and were intrigued by LeBlanc’s pitching experience as a starter. Less than two weeks after signing he was inserted into the starting rotation. While LeBlanc has been able to fill a need for the Cardinals, the downside is he can be exposed as a starter.
While he’s 0-2 on the season with a 4.17 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, his advanced numbers point to some regression considering his 5.39 xERA and 4.99 FIP. One issue straightaway for LeBlanc is that he’s not missing many bats at this stage in his career. The 36-year-old is only striking out 5.93 batters per nine innings and has called strike plus swinging (CSW) rate of 26.6%. Furthermore, opposing hitters have an 8.3% barrel rate against him, which is the highest in his career since Statcast introduced the metric in 2016.
He’ll have his hands full against an Atlanta team that loves to hit the long ball. The Braves rank fourth in home runs with 152, and I suspect that will be a big part of how they approach LeBlanc.
Atlanta’s lineup has also played much better since the All-Star break. In the second half of the season, the Braves rank seventh with a .264 AVG. and 12th with a .329 wOBA. The Braves have also cut down on their strikeouts and put the ball in play more often. In the first half, they were 24th with a 25.1% strikeout rate, but that number is down to 21.4% since the break, which ranks eighth in the league.
Thursday’s game will be the final regular-season meeting between Atlanta and St. Louis. I’m sure the Cardinals can’t wait for the Braves to leave town because the season series has pretty much been a one-sided affair. Atlanta has won five of the six games thus far and outscored St. Louis 27-15 in the process.
In fact, the Cardinals have been shut out twice in the series and held to one run or fewer in four of the six games.
LeBlanc comes into this game off a decent outing against the Twins as he pitched 5 and 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the Cardinals’ 5-1 victory. However, St. Louis has yet to win back-to-back starts with LeBlanc on the mound since his addition to the rotation.
I like this matchup for Toussaint. Atlanta is undefeated when he’s coming off an outing in which he allowed seven or more runs.
My model makes the Braves a -138 favorite in this matchup, so I’ll take advantage of the value BetMGM is offering at -115.
Pick: Braves ML (-115)