Sneaking away with a win in the finale of their four-game set with the Dodgers, the 82-68 Cardinals have traveled to Atlanta for three games with the division-leading Braves. The series at SunTrust Park will start on Monday evening, with the Cardinals looking for redemption after the Braves’ sweep at Busch Stadium before the All-Star break.
The Braves enter play Monday with an 83-66 record that leads the National League East by 6 1⁄2 games over the Phillies. The Cardinals, after dropping three of four games, are now tied with the Dodgers for the second Wild Card spot behind the 85-65 Brewers. The Cubs still lead the Central, but the lead is not overly sizable; the Brewers sit 2 1⁄2 back, and St. Louis is 5 1⁄2 out.
In Monday’s series opener, the Braves will send Mike Foltynewicz to the mound to face Miles Mikolas and the Cardinals at 6:35 PM Central time. With this assignment set to be his 29th start of the season, the 27-year-old Foltynewicz will set a new career high in starts. Six of the last seven starts for Foltynewicz have been quality; in the stretch, he has a 1.70 ERA with 48 strikeouts.
Mikolas enters the series with a 3.26 FIP, the seventh-best in the National League. After he allowed 10 earned runs in three starts from 8/24-9/5, Mikolas rebounded with seven innings of one-run ball against the Pirates on 9/11. Mikolas took on this Braves team back in late June, when he pitched in to the seventh inning and limited Atlanta to one run.
Tuesday’s contest is set to feature Anibal Sanchez and Austin Gomber in another 6:35 PM start. Sanchez came up with the Marlins in 2006 before joining the Tigers in 2012 and pitching in Detroit until this season, his first in Atlanta. Sanchez has maintained a 3.01 ERA across 119 2⁄3 innings of work the Braves, serving as the team’s oldest pitching at 34 years old. In fact, catcher Rene Rivera is the only player (he is 35) older than Sanchez, who is the same age as outfielder Nick Markakis.
Gomber had a rough outing his last time out, back on 9/13 against Los Angeles. In three-plus innings, the 24-year-old allowed seven earned runs on nine hits. Perhaps being back on the road will benefit Gomber, who has a 3.50 ERA and .250 opponent’s batting average in 36 frames away from St. Louis this season.
The finale of this three-game series will start at 11:10 AM and have a very exciting mound matchup of Touki Toussaint and Jack Flaherty. Atlanta’s 2014 first-round pick, Toussaint is a 22-year-old right-hander who will be making the fourth start of his career. Toussaint has worked against the Marlins, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Nationals in 11 1⁄3 frames, so this will be his first outing against an opponent from the Central division. Toussaint fanned 163 batters in a combined 24 starts at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this summer.
Flaherty punched out eight and limited the Dodgers to one run in his six-inning outing back on 9/14 to continue his stretch of recent excellence. Over his last seven outings, the 22-year-old Flaherty has a 1.93 ERA with 50 strikeouts. Flaherty has allowed only four home runs dating back to his first start in August, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against Atlanta’s cast of young sluggers. Entering Monday, Ronald Acuna Jr. leads the team with 25 long balls, Ozzie Albies follows with 22 homers, and Johan Camargo has a .468 slugging percentage.