Major League Baseball

The Atlanta Braves (28-23) and the St. Louis Cardinals (25-24) begin an intriguing three-game series on Friday night at Busch Stadium. Here’s what bettors should be watching for throughout the weekend.

Friday, 8:15 p.m. ET

MLB Free Play: Cardinals runline

Mike Foltynewicz (0-3, 6.91 ERA) (ATL) +140 / +1.5 runs (-140) / Over 10 runs (-105)
Miles Mikolas (4-4, 4.48 ERA) (STL) -155 / -1.5 runs (+120) / Under 10 runs (-115)

The Cardinals are sizeable favorites in Friday night’s series opener against the Braves, and deservedly so, based on the starting pitching matchup.

Mike Foltynewicz was untouchable at times in 2018 but has hardly been the same for Atlanta this season. His team is 0-5 behind him in five starts this year, and he’s surrendered 10 home runs. Foltynewicz typically struggles with St. Louis, too, as he owns a 9.33 ERA in six previous encounters. That includes an eight-run shellacking at their hands on May 14. Catcher Yadier Molina, second baseman Kolten Wong and shortstop Paul DeJong are a combined 12-for-28 (.429) against “Folty.”

Miles Mikolas was chased by the Rangers on May 17 after allowing seven runs while recording just four outs—easily the worst start of his career. Bettors should probably write that off as a fluke. Mikolas had given up just three earned runs in his previous 20 innings of work (three starts). Opponents are batting just .188 against him at Busch Stadium in 2019; he was 8-4 with a 2.17 ERA at home last year (16 starts).

Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET, FOX

The Cardinals could be a good value bet on Saturday night as they send Dakota Hudson (3-3, 4.40 ERA) to the mound against Atlanta’s Mike Soroka (5-1, 1.01 ERA).

Soroka has had an incredible rookie year, as opponents are batting just .159 against him. He shut out St. Louis through seven innings at SunTrust Park on May 15, but he walked three batters while striking out only three and needed 10 fly-ball outs to get through it. Dexter Fowler, who’s seeing the ball well in May (.410 OBP), is a potential catalyst.

Hudson has begun to give the Cardinals some length in May, tossing six innings in three of his four starts. His ERA this month is 3.13. Backing him is a St. Louis bullpen that’s been the best in the majors over the last week, pitching to a 1.66 ERA.

Sunday, 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Sunday night’s series finale will see the Braves’ Julio Teheran (3-4, 3.67 ERA) squaring off with the Cardinals’ Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.19 ERA).

Teheran’s ERA in May is a sparkling 0.79. That includes five scoreless frames against St. Louis on May 16 in which he allowed just two hits.

Flaherty has been bit by the base-on-balls in his last few starts, leading to a 4.37 ERA in May. His SO/W ratio for the month is 1.57. Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies are 0-for-9 combined against the California native, but first baseman Freddie Freeman is 3-for-5 with a home run.

Braves backers would be wise to look into the first five innings market, as Atlanta’s bullpen (22nd in batting average against at .251 heading into the weekend) tends to muddy the picture late.