The St. Louis Cardinals are facing off against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. What could the results of the season series tell us about the NLDS?
This is something St. Louis Cardinals fans have been waiting for for a long time. The hometown team is back in the NLDS and while they may have backed their way in, an NL Central title is still an NL Central title.
As fans saw for a while, the team that won the NL Central was going to play the Atlanta Braves who had another great year after making the playoffs last year. While the Braves have improved even more in 2019, this is the postseason and anything can happen.
As we at begin to break down the series over the next couple of days, a good place to start is the regular season. Let’s take a look at how the Cardinals performed this year against the Braves.
Series 1: May 14-16
The Cardinals came into this series at Suntrust Park starting the month of May just 3-9. In game one, Jack Flaherty outpitched Mike Foltynewicz and performed well enough to win with six innings of three-run ball as the team muscled up behind him with 14 runs on the backs of a Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina home run.
This would be the high point of the series as the offense was shut down by Mike Soroka and Julie Teheran the other two games being outscored 2-14. Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright both had clunkers on the road as neither threw a pitch in the sixth inning.
Series 2: May 24-26
Just 10 days later, the Braves came up to St. Louis and won another series against the Cardinals who had now gone 6-14 in the month of May and were still beat down from the last time the teams met.
Foltynewicz outdueled Miles Mikolas in a 5-2 Braves victory in game one and while the Cardinals rallied to win game 2 behind an 8th inning, three-run bomb from our good old friend Jedd Gyorko to put the Cardinals on top.
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The bullpen (Tyler Webb) blew game three in the ninth as the Braves once again took the series.
Overall, the Braves caught the Cardinals during the worst month in their franchise history. While the Braves winning four of six during the season certainly means something, it should be taken with a grain of salt because of the context of what team the Cardinals were at that time.
Not that it doesn’t pop back up now, but the Cardinals offense was even more inconsistent than it is now, Jack Flaherty was not who he was now, and the bullpen was strong but much flukier.
We will continue to break down this series leading up to Thursday’s game, but just note that the Braves beat up and shut down the Cardinals this year and will have the confidence to do it again.
The series is important to look at but isn’t the end-all-be-all of how this series is going to go. While the Cardinals are 95% the same team (bye-bye Mr. Gyorko we miss you), they have gained confidence around their strengths and will hopefully come out gunning for a trip to the NLCS.