This is what the postseason is made for: Game 5; winner moves on, loser goes home. On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals will take on the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park for the right to move onto the National League Championship Series. Having split the games in both parks, it appears that home-field advantage might be out the window. Still, Atlanta will look to its home crowd to try to propel it to victory.
The matchup for this one should be a good one as Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA in the regular season) takes the mound for the Cardinals against the Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz (8-6, 4.54 ERA in the regular season). First pitch for this one is scheduled for 5:02 pm ET.
The moneyline for this matchup features the St. Louis Cardinals at -115 and the Atlanta Braves at +105. The over/under in terms of runs scored is set at 8.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, the Atlanta Braves were the better of the two teams during the regular season. They ranked seventh in the majors, averaging 5.25 runs per game (5.33 at home). The Cardinals ranked 19th in the majors, averaging 4.68 runs per game (4.61 on the road).
On the pitching side, it was the Cardinals who held the slight edge. They ranked fifth in the majors with a 3.80 earned run average during the regular season (4.36 on the road). The Braves came in eighth in the majors with a staff ERA of 4.18 (4.04 at home).
When you put it all together, it was Atlanta who held the slight advantage in terms of run differential. The Braves ranked eighth overall with a run differential of +115, while the Cardinals came in 10th with a run differential of +99.
Cardinals Try To Upset Braves On The Road
The Cardinals are trying to upset the Braves, and, to do so, they will need a strong outing from righty Flaherty. In Game 2, Flaherty took the loss after going seven innings, allowing eight hits, three earned runs, one walk and striking out eight. Despite the loss, Flaherty was one of the most remarkable pitchers in the second half.
In fact, after the All-Star break, Flaherty went 7-2 with 0.91 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and opponents hit just .142 against him. In 99 1/3 innings pitched over that time, he gave up 48 hits, 10 earned runs, five home runs and struck out 124 versus 23 walks. He will attempt to rekindle that dominance on Wednesday.
On the offensive side, Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt are certainly showing why they are two of the best hitters on the team. In the postseason, Ozuna is hitting .471/.500/1.000 with two home runs and four runs batted in. Goldschmidt is hitting .438/.500/1.063 with two home runs and two runs batted in. Both will try to get to Foltynewicz, against whom only Ozuna has a hit against.
Braves Trying To Finish The Job At Home
While Flaherty may have picked up the loss in Game 2, it was Foltynewicz who picked up the win, going seven innings and allowing just three hits while striking out seven. He hopes to repeat the same production on Wednesday.
On the season, Foltynewicz was 8-6 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.25 WHIP as opponents hit .244 against him. In 117 innings, he allowed 109 hits, 59 earned runs and 23 home runs and struck out 105 versus 37 walks.
For the Braves’ offense, there have been a few big hitters early on. Ronald Acuna Jr., despite the concerns of hustling out of the box, has had a good showing hitting .500/.579/1.000 with a home run, a triple, two doubles and two runs batted in.
Dansby Swanson has also performed well, hitting .500/.533/.714 with a couple of runs batted in and three runs scored. Several players have had success, albeit in limited at-bats against Flaherty. Don’t be surprised if Adam Duvall gets the start on Wednesday, given that he has homered off of the Cardinals’ righty in his career.
Cardinals Win The Series
Based on the way they pitched for most of the season, it is hard not to be on Flaherty. While he may have been outmatched in Game 2, I think he will find his retribution in Game 5. The one interesting variable in this one could be Max Fried.
The dynamic lefty will likely be there to pick up Foltynewicz if he were to get into trouble. In reality, it will likely be all hands on deck on both sides as the two teams hope to move on to face the winner of the Dodgers-Nationals series. For my money, I am taking Flaherty and the Cardinals at -115.