The Atlanta Braves host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS playoff series, and the start time is slated for 5:02 p.m. Eastern on TBS. Braves’ lefty Dallas Keuchel and Cardinals’ righty Miles Mikolas will be the starting pitchers for the series opener, per ESPN.
Neither team is starting their true ace but for different reasons. Mike Soroka’s home-road splits led the Braves to opt to save their young pitcher for Game 3 in St. Louis as he has performed better outside of SunTrust Park. The Cardinals needed Jack Flaherty on Sunday against the Cubs as they looked to clinch the NL Central rather than having to take on the Nationals in the Wild Card matchup.
While Atlanta had the NL East wrapped up for more than a week, St. Louis had to hold off a late-season push from Milwaukee to win the division. Despite the security, the Braves still enter the postseason with questions about two of their top players.
Freddie Freeman & Ronald Acuna Jr. Are Both Nursing Injuries
Freddie Freeman has been battling an elbow injury, while Ronald Acuna Jr.’s sore groin sidelined him for the end of the regular season. Both are expected to play, but Braves fans will be watching to see if Freeman or Acuna show any ill effects from the injuries. After initially admitting he was not feeling at full strength, Freeman noted a few days later that he believes he will be 100 percent in the series.
“#Braves’ Freeman on simulated game Tuesday: ‘I didn’t feel my elbow at all. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow because I think I’m gonna be 100 percent,’” The Athletic’s David O’Brien tweeted.
Acuna is also expected to show no limitations in his return to the Braves lineup.
“Ronald Acuña worked out yesterday and had no issues with his hip. Snit said he expects him 100 percent tomorrow,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Gabe Burns noted on Twitter.
The Cardinals are also dealing with a few injuries worth monitoring. Second baseman Kolten Wong has been battling a strained hamstring, while pitcher Michael Wacha is nursing a shoulder injury.
Jack Flaherty Is Expected to Start Game 2 for the Cardinals
Flaherty has been named the Cardinals starter for Game 2, and Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound for the Braves. Flaherty enters the NLDS after surging to close out the regular season. The Cardinals pitcher has not allowed a run in his last two starts, had 17 strikeouts and gave up just three hits. His teammates understand just how much he means to the ball club.
“You can’t put in words what he means to us,’’ Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter told USA Today. “And if you’re going to win in October, you need a guy on the mound who’s going to dominate. You need a guy who’s not afraid. This guy, I’m telling you, is as tough as they come.’’
Here is a look at the Cardinals-Braves NLDS schedule.
Cardinals vs. Braves Schedule: NLDS Playoff Games
|Thurs., Oct. 3||Cardinals vs. Braves Game 1||5:02 p.m. TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 4||Cardinals vs. Braves Game 2||4:37 p.m. TBS|
|Sun., Oct. 6||Braves vs. Cardinals Game 3||TBD/TBS|
|Mon., Oct. 7||Braves vs. Cardinals Game 4||TBD/TBS|
|Wed., Oct. 9||Cardinals vs. Braves Game 5||TBD/TBS|