St. Louis Cardinals (91-71, won NL Central) vs. Atlanta Braves (97-65, won NL East)
Game 1- Thursday, October 3rd @ 5 PM ET in Atlanta, TBS
Game 2- Friday, October 4th @ 4:30 PM ET in Atlanta, TBS
Game 3- Sunday, October 6th, Time TBA, in St Louis, TBS
Game 4 (if necessary)- Monday, October 7th, Time TBA, in St. Louis, TBS
Game 5 (if necessary)- Wednesday, October 9th, Time TBA, in Atlanta, TBS
The Cardinals seemingly came out of nowhere this season to win the NL Central. All eyes were on the Cubs and defending division champion Brewers, but as they so often do, the Cards put together a great season and found themselves in the postseason once again.
Game 1 starter will be Miles Mikolas. The 31-year-old right-hander was 9-14 with a 4.16 ERA in the regular season. Mikolas struggled this season after finishing 2018 with an 18-4 record and 2.83 ERA. The Cards will send their true ace to the mound on Tuesday in 23-year-old breakout Jack Flaherty. Flaherty finished the season 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA. He was brilliant down the stretch, going 7-2 with a 0.91 ERA over his last 15 starts.
The Cardinals were able to win their division despite an up and down offense due to their great pitching. Their starters are fifth in baseball in ERA with a 3.78 mark, and their relievers are sixth with a 3.88 ERA. They helped supplement an offense that finished 19th in runs scored and 24th in home runs.
Player to watch- Paul Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt is St. Louis’ biggest threat at the plate. The ever-solid first baseman finished with a .260/.346/.476 slash line with a team high 34 home runs. In his last seven games coming in, he is hitting .323/.364/.645 with three home runs and six RBIs.
Atlanta was able to shrug off preseason predictions and win their second consecutive NL East title. A big part of their season was an MVP type campaign from Freddie Freeman. The 30-year-old first baseman finished with a .938 OPS to go with 38 home runs, and his 121 RBIs were third in baseball and just five behind Anthony Rendon’s lead.
Atlanta will send lefty Dallas Keuchel to the mound for game one. Since being signed in June, Keuchel has been a huge boost for an Atlanta team that has had some shaky pitching. Keuchel finished 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA across 19 starts. He has 10 games of postseason experience and a World Series ring to go along with his 4-2 record and 3.31 ERA in the postseason.
The Braves’ bullpen has at times been shaky. Their ‘pen combined for a 4.21 ERA and just a 1.1 WAR. But, Atlanta did a lot to address their situation at the deadline, acquiring Shane Greene from the Tigers and Mark Melancon from the Giants. Greene however has a 4.01 ERA in 27 appearances with the Braves, while Melancon checks in with a 3.86 in 23 appearances.
Player to watch- Josh Donaldson
The former AL MVP rejuvenated himself in Atlanta, hitting .259/.379/.521 with a .900 OPS and 37 home runs. Donaldson will look to bounce back from a rough and perhaps injury hampered 2018 postseason in Cleveland where he had just one hit in eleven at bats across three games.