Three games into the season, it was these very Braves that inspired the title to this point and every series preview post preceding it. Times seemed tough for the Cardinals. They had just been swept by the division rival Pirates, but the outlook was not so bleak as they were about to start a series against the woeful Braves, thus inspiring the title of the post. The team was on pace to finish 0-162 at that time, and although straits seem dire once more, the team is now on pace to finish with between 85 and 90 wins, and as such, it is fair to say these posts have been tremendously successful. The Cardinals should destroy the Braves.
At the moment, the Braves are 39-69, and have the worst record in baseball. By Pythagorean wins they are exactly that bad, but by BaseRuns they are only a still-really-bad 43-65. They are also projected to be one of the very worst teams in baseball. Of course, much of what can be said about the Braves can also be said about the Reds, and we saw how that ended up.
The Braves still have Freddie Freeman, who is quite good. They still have Nick Markakis, who is close to average with the bat. They just traded for Matt Kemp, who has a decent bat, but has been one of the worst-fielding outfielders in history over the past few years. Erick Aybar didn’t played well enough to be a trade chip at the deadline. Ender Inciarte is probably better than he has shown this year. Cardinals legend A.J. Pierzynski is the team’s principal catcher. Gordan Beckham and Jace Peterson split duties at second base, but neither is very good. Adonis Garcia has a below-average bat at third.
That’s more or less what you need to know from the position player side. Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies will take over in the middle infield sometime soon, but they aren’t there yet. The Braves do have some decent young pitchers that they’ve been hoarding over the past few years, so it’s probably best to talk about them instead.
You probably remember Tyrell Jenkins as the prospect who went over to the Braves in the Jason Heyward deal. Jenkins isn’t there yet, but he has already made multiple starts this season with the Braves. If he can get his stuff to play up a little more, he could be a decent starter for Cobb County next year. Jenkins will not pitch this series, however.
Tonight’s starter is Joel De La Cruz, a 27-year-old righty who has made three starts for the Braves in his first year in the majors. He’s pitched mostly out of the pen, so he might not be ramped up to go very long into the game as his first start in a month occurred on Sunday and he lasted just 4.1 innings, walking two and striking out none, although he did not give up a run. Jaime Garcia will take the mound for the Cardinals.
On Saturday, Mike Foltynewicz will start for Atlanta. Foltynewicz has a lot of talent and is still just 24 years old. The righty’s strikeout and walk numbers are decent, but he has given up a rather large number of home runs. He’s got a live mid-90s fastball that he pairs with a slider, but he sometimes goes to a change or curve. He is capable of putting together a nice start as he went seven innings and struck out 10 without conceding a walk or a run against the White Sox earlier this year. Carlos Martinez will pitch for the Cardinals.
Matt Wisler was the scheduled starter for Sunday, but it appears he will be sent down to Triple-A. Perhaps Rob Whalen or Aaron Blair will pitch on Sunday. Whoever pitches will face off against Adam Wainwright.
In other, important news, Matt Carpenter should return for this home series.
Tonight’s game is at 7:15 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest
Saturday’s game is at 6:15 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest
Sunday’s game is at 1:15 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest