A version of this article originally appeared on the Action Network. For more information on betting, see ActionNetwork.com.
Over under: 9 (-110 / -110)
The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals both struggle hard to climb the ladder in their respective divisions, so every game counts at this point. Both have started to hit the ball much better in the past few weeks and will face pitchers from their game in Wednesday’s showdown.
Is it that easy to beat the sum and never look back? Let’s take a look at the numbers here.
Inconsistent performances that define Atlanta
For the last 17 games, the story has stayed the same for the Braves. After a win comes a defeat. Atlanta has failed to build any momentum while desperately trying to make up for the New York Mets, though it’s not like they’re letting things get away either.
Oddly enough, this team has switched perfectly between winning and losing competitions in the last 17 games.
Perhaps this game can tell a different story and the Braves can claim a streak win. You play against a Cardinals team who have a lot of work to do if they want to earn a place in the playoffs. The problem is, Atlanta isn’t going to have one of its front-end starters pulling the rubber away. Instead, it will be Drew Smyly.
The left-hander wasn’t bad this year, but it wasn’t good. His strikeouts are low, a little over 20%, and history is the same with his poor walk numbers.
The Statcast numbers aren’t all that bad though, as its hit rate is a little below the 2020 pace and its xERA is 4.84. His fastball, which he throws 49.6% of the time, will be the scene here.
St. Louis, hoping for quality, starts with luck
The first of two pitching debuts for the Cardinals did not go so well on Tuesday, with Jon Lester allowing five runs in the first inning. That said, St. Louis hopes things can turn around with another veteran takeover on the hill.
JA Happ gets the ball as St. Louis tries to get back into the race and the Cardinals are hoping for a drastic change from what we saw in Minnesota.
Happ ranks among the last 11% of all qualified pitchers in xwOBA, xSLG, barrel rate, strikeout rate and whiff rate. The good thing we can say is that he stayed solid with a BB% of just 7 percent in the walk department. Happ hasn’t been a great strikeout pitcher for a while, but he’s usually able to create enough soft contact to remain an effective big league pitcher.
This season, Happ has a hard hit rate of 42.5%, which is an 8% increase from last year, and .363 xwOBA, which is an increase of .279 last year. He gave up more flyballs and his fastball was hit very hard.
On the positive side for Happ, the Braves only have 94 wRC + and are ranked 21st against left-handers. The bad news is that St. Louis is one place behind Atlanta with 93 WRC + against southpaw. While both pitchers may have trouble here, both offenses face offenses in this split.
Granted, it’s very difficult to gauge how these pitchers will fare, which is why we have a Pick’em line. I am more interested in taking the sum, however, with two offenses that have recently shown signs of life. Atlanta hit a .262 hit in the past two weeks, while St. Louis took 106 wRC + to 10th place in baseball during that period.
Also, St. Louis has an above-average rating of weighted runs per 100 fastballs, and Atlanta is not far behind.
I think that score will go to the moon.