Only one series this weekend matches two teams that are both currently on pace to make the playoffs, and they also happen to be two of the hottest teams in all of baseball entering the week. We’re talking about the Braves visiting St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals.
Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Friday, August 26, 2022 – Sunday, August 28, 2022 at Busch Stadium
- Game 1: Friday, August 26 – 08:15 PM EDT
- Game 2: Saturday, August 27 – 07:15 PM EDT
- Game 3: Sunday, August 28 – 07:08 PM EDT
The Atlanta Braves, who have put a stranglehold on a National League Wild Card berth —assuming they don’t catch the division-leading New York Mets first— will head to St. Louis to face the Cardinals, who have built some breathing room in the NL Central race with an August spurt.
The Cardinals entered the week on a seven-game winning streak and were 16-3 over a 19-game stretch that started just before the MLB trade deadline. St. Louis trailed in the Central by as many as four games in late July but now found itself with a five-game lead over the Brewers.
The Braves have also found their stride. The reigning World Series champions entered the week prior as winners of 11 of 12 before losing the series finale to Houston on Sunday.
Turning Things Around
After a slow start to their title defense, the Braves have posted the best record in the MLB since June 1.
The Braves also have the best record in MLB in one-run games and, before the 5-4 loss to Houston on Sunday, had won seven straight that were settled by just one run.
Atlanta’s most recent hot streak—an 11-1 mark from Aug. 9 to Aug. 20—came against some of the top teams in baseball, including winning three of four from the Mets and two of three from the Astros, both divisional leaders. The Braves also swept the Marlins and Red Sox over that stretch.
That compares favorably to the Cardinals’ hot streak, which, while it included a sweep of the Yankees, also included 13 games against the:
- – Washington Nationals
- – Chicago Cubs
- – Arizona Diamondbacks
- – Colorado Rockies
All those teams are below .500 and at least 11 games back in the Wild Card.
Matt Olson has led the Atlanta offense, with the most homers in MLB since June 1. Everything seems to be clicking for Atlanta, who was able to fix a flaw it found in pickup Robbie Grossman’s swing. After struggling with Detroit much of the year, he suddenly found his power with the Braves.
He matched his season total in homers—established over 320 plate appearances with Detroit—in 30 appearances with the Braves.
Not everything has gone smoothly for Atlanta lately, however. Embattled outfielder Marcell Ozuna threw Atlanta’s lineup into chaos late last season when he was involved in a domestic violence case for allegedly choking his wife. A year later, he was arrested for DUI a week ago and booed by the home Atlanta fans in his first game back.
New Cards Fitting In
St. Louis added starting pitchers before the deadline, and the moves have made the Cardinals look smart. They traded to get Jose Quintana from Pittsburgh on Aug. 1 and saw him allow just three runs in his first 17 innings as a Cardinal before struggling on Sunday against Arizona.
St. Louis also traded to acquire lefthander Jordan Montgomery from the Yankees. He was 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA as a Cardinal headed into this week. Both pitchers should see action against Atlanta over the weekend.
The Cardinals have also seen their two biggest offensive stars catch fire in Nolan Arenado and Pete Goldschmidt. Arenado entered the week with six of his 25 home runs on the season in August and 18 of his 78 RBIs. Goldschmidt has been even better with seven homers and 22 RBIs this month.
Something has to give as the MLB postseason draws near. Both teams have gotten hot at the right time —for the second straight season. The Braves have done it against a meaty part of their schedule, while St. Louis has benefitted from some weaker foes in recent games.
That should have Atlanta more prepared for the showdown in St. Louis. Look for the Braves to take two of three.