When the Braves faced the Cardinals in July, they faced a team with the best record in all of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have since fallen out of first place in the NL Central but are just one game behind Pittsburgh for the top spot in the division.
Atlanta swept St. Louis in that July series which was the genesis for a 14-game winning streak, but now the Braves head to Busch Stadium where they've lost seven of their last 10, and they'll do so without the services of Jason Heyward. The Braves had been rolling since inserting Heyward into the leadoff spot in the lineup, but a fractured jaw suffered in New York will keep him sidelined for a minimum of four weeks and quite possibly for the remainder of the regular season.
Returning to action for Atlanta will be Paul Maholm, who had been out of action since July 20 with a wrist injury. Before Maholm's DL stint, Atlanta had lost his last three starts where he gave up a total of 16 runs (one unearned) in 13.1 innings. Considering he's just been activated, Maholm may be on a pitch count.
For St. Louis, all Yadier Molina has done since his return from the DL is hit .370. He and Chris Johnson are battling it out for the batting title, with Johnson percentage points ahead of Molina (.33248 to .33247).
Allen Craig, the team's leading run producer and owner of a Majors-leading .449 RISP avg., is hitting just .241 since the series in Atlanta. Dating back further to July 25, he's hitting .208 with only 11 RBIs. Regardless, he's still eighth in the NL with a .310 batting average. Fellow Cardinals Matt Carpenter (.311) and Carlos Beltran (.307) are also among the top 10. Barring an epic meltdown on offense, the Cardinals will finish the season as the top RISP-hitting team in MLB, currently with a .328 RISP avg. No one else is hitting higher than .285. In fact, five of the top eight RISP hitters in the NL are Cardinals: the four mentioned above plus Matt Holliday; Freddie Freeman is second with a .437 RISP avg.
Cardinals pitching is fifth in the NL (and the Majors, as well) with a 3.50 ERA. In the month of August, however, it's taken a bit of a hit with a 3.84 ERA for the month. Atlanta did not see closer Edward Mujica pitch in the July series, who is having his best month of the season so far in August, giving up just one run in 11.1 innings. He has been battling shoulder discomfort lately, so if St. Louis has the lead late and Mujica is summoned, we'll see how effective he is.
Of the scheduled starters for St. Louis in this series, Joe Kelly has outpitched Adam Wainwright this month, surrendering just five runs in 22.2 innings in August; Kelly has, however, walked 11 batters to go along with 14 strikeouts. Wainwright has walked just six in 21 August innings with a 3.00 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Miller and Lynn, on the other hand, have combined to allow 21 ER in 42.1 innings this month.
The Cardinals are 11-16 in their last 27 games.
Thursday, August 21, 8:15 p.m. ET - SportSouth, MLB Network
#28 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jun 25, 1982
|2013 - Paul Maholm||9-9||4.41||1.39||82||36|
#58 / Pitcher / St. Louis Cardinals
Jun 09, 1988
|2013 - Joe Kelly||4-3||3.01||1.36||55||29|
Friday, August 22, 8:15 p.m. ET - FOX SportSouth
#54 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Oct 07, 1985
|2013 - Kris Medlen||10-11||3.71||1.32||115||38|
#50 / Pitcher / St. Louis Cardinals
Aug 30, 1981
|2013 - Adam Wainwright||14-7||2.66||1.04||173||25|
Saturday, August 23, 7:15 p.m. ET - FOX SportSouth
#49 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jan 27, 1991
|2013 - Julio Teheran||9-6||3.08||1.17||127||31|
#40 / Pitcher / St. Louis Cardinals
Oct 10, 1990
|2013 - Shelby Miller||11-8||2.98||1.18||145||41|
Sunday, August 24, 2:15 p.m. ET - FOX SportsSouth, TBS
#37 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Sep 03, 1986
|2013 - Brandon Beachy||2-1||4.50||1.03||23||4|
#31 / Pitcher / St. Louis Cardinals
May 12, 1987
|2013 - Lance Lynn||13-7||3.97||1.27||153||61|