The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals were both considered playoff contenders to begin the season, but each team has some work to do. These two teams will meet up in St. Louis this weekend for a series that begins on Friday night. A pair of dominant starting pitchers will be on the mound in the series opener, but both men have struggled so far in 2019.

St. Louis looked like the best team in baseball through the first three weeks, but they have slipped in the standings. The Cardinals are now in fourth place in the National League Central with a record of just 25-24. Atlanta comes into this game having won seven of its last nine games, and they look like contenders again. The Braves are just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East Division. The St. Louis Cardinals are -145 over the Atlanta Braves in this game.

Mikolas Needs To Improve For Cardinals

The Cardinals rewarded Miles Mikolas with a contract extension after a great 2018 season, but he hasn’t performed that well in 2019. Mikolas comes into this game with a record of 4-4 but sports a hefty 4.88 earned run average. St. Louis has a plethora of young pitching options, but they need Mikolas to be the leader of the team. Mikolas is going to have to deal with a hot Braves lineup.

First baseman Matt Carpenter is off to another terrible start in 2019, and it’s really held back what could be a great Cardinals lineup. Carpenter is hitting just .203 on the season but has shown some improvement of late. Marcell Ozuna has found his power again and leads the team with 14 home runs and 45 runs batted in. This Cardinals team should be able to score runs with the best of them when they are hitting well.

Rookie Riley Continues to Impress

The Atlanta Braves have a lot of proven big league talent in their lineup, but it has been a rookie that has been carrying them of late. Austin Riley has played just nine games in the Major Leagues but has already hit five home runs and looks like he is here to stay. All-Star Freddie Freeman leads the team with a .402 batting average and has also belted 12 home runs. The Braves’ bats are starting to wake up.

Fans in Atlanta have to be wondering what’s going on with Mike Foltynewicz. The hard-throwing right-hander was lights out a season ago but has yet to win a game and has an ERA of 6.91 entering this start. Foltynewicz did give up just two earned runs in six innings in his last start, so maybe that is a sign of things to come.

St. Louis Takes Series Opener

A pair of struggling starters will be on the mound in this game, but both pitchers have the stuff to dominate. Atlanta has been hitting the ball like crazy of late, but look for Mikolas to cool them off a bit. The Cardinals are always tough to beat in St. Louis, and their offense is going to score enough runs to win the series opener. Bet the St. Louis Cardinals -145 over the Atlanta Braves in the series opener.