Preview: Cardinals at Braves
Current Conditions – Atlanta
P/SUNNY 89 °F
Wind: WNW 10
5-Day Forecast GAME: St. Louis Cardinals (100-60) at Atlanta Braves (65-95)
DATE/TIME: Sunday, October 04 – 1:00 PM EST
WHERE: Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia
LINE: N/A TOTAL: N/A
The St. Louis Cardinals wrap up the regular season Sunday with a doubleheader at the Atlanta Braves, but while the Cardinals’ season will continue into next week’s National League Division Series, who will make up the postseason roster remains up in the air. Outfielder Randal Grichuk is nursing a sore right arm and the Cardinals might not be able to play him in center field when they open the postseason.
Fellow outfielder Stephen Piscotty, involved in a scary collision with teammate Peter Bourjos on Monday in Pittsburgh, continues working through Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol to be cleared to return. Following Saturday’s rainout – the first at Turner Field since May 4, 2013 – St. Louis manager Mike Matheny has two games Sunday to gauge how to construct the Cardinals opening playoff roster. Atlanta, trying to avoid reaching 97 losses for the first time in a quarter-century, has won six of its past seven games at home, including Friday’s 4-0 victory in the series opener. Shelby Miller starts Game 1, looking to end a 24-start winless streak dating back to May 17.
TV: 1:10 p.m., FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH John Lackey (13-9, 2.69 ERA) vs. Braves RH Shelby Miller (5-17, 3.15)
While Matheny has not announced his playoff rotation, Lackey figures to be a strong candidate to start Game 1 of the NLDS. The 13-year veteran, who has 117 innings of postseason experience across 21 games, posted a 1.78 ERA in five September starts and ranks sixth in the NL in ERA. Lackey has won four of his past six decisions, pitching seven innings or more six times in his past seven outings.
The Braves have averaged an anemic 1.6 runs while Miller has been in the game this season, a huge reason why Atlanta’s lone All-Star representative leads the majors in losses. But Miller has not pitched well down the stretch, going 0-5 in September with a 7.11 ERA while allowing five runs or more three times in five starts. Miller’s lone meeting with his former team July 25 illustrates many of his outings during the winless streak – one run allowed on two hits in 7 1/3 innings in a 1-0 loss.
1. Atlanta C A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .300 entering the season’s final day, but his availability for Sunday’s twin bill is in doubt after bruising his shoulder Friday.
2. St. Louis P Adam Wainwright, making his second relief appearance Friday after missing four months with an Achilles injury, threw 12 of his 15 pitches for strikes in a scoreless sixth inning.
3. If the Braves lose both games Sunday they will finish at 65-97; Atlanta has not lost 97 games in a season since back-to-back 97-defeat campaigns in 1989-90.
PREDICTION: Braves 3, Cardinals 2