|2:02 PM PT3:02 PM MT4:02 PM CT5:02 PM ET17:02 ET21:02 GMT5:02 2:02 PM MST4:02 PM EST4:32 PM VEN1:02 UAE (+1)4:02 PM CT, October 3, 2019
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia Attendance: 42,631
Braves rely on Keuchel in NLDS opener vs. Cards
The Atlanta Braves will lean on a veteran arm, while the visiting St. Louis Cardinals' starter will make his postseason debut when the clubs open the National League Division Series on Thursday.
Central Division champion St. Louis (91-71) and East Division champion Atlanta (97-65) have not played since May. The Braves went 4-2 against the Cards, winning both three-game series during the regular season.
The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2012 wild-card game, which the Cardinals won. The Braves have lost nine straight playoff rounds, one short of matching the Chicago Cubs' record for futility.
Atlanta sends left-hander Dallas Keuchel (8-8, 3.75 ERA) against St. Louis right-hander Miles Mikolas (9-14, 4.16) to begin the best-of-five series.
It will be the 11th career postseason appearance for Keuchel, who was expected to fill this role when he was signed as a free agent in June. He went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in his previous playoff games with the Houston Astros.
Over his past eight starts, Keuchel is 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA, but he lost his final three outings. The primary concern has been home runs; he allowed two long balls in two of his final three starts. He gave up four runs over five innings in his final tune-up on Sept. 27 against the New York Mets.
"The main key is getting out there and pitching in a meaningful game," Keuchel said. "This is what you play for starting on Thursday. We're going to be ready to go. That's when the fun starts."
Keuchel did not face the Cardinals this year and is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against St. Louis.
Mikolas won 18 games a year ago when the Cardinals missed the playoffs. He was moved into the role as the Game 1 starter when St. Louis used ace Jack Flaherty to clinch the NL Central crown on Sunday.
Mikolas is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA over his last six starts, striking out 35 in 35 2/3 innings. In his last start on Sept. 22 against the Chicago Cubs, Mikolas allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings but did not get a decision.
He is 1-2 with a 2.61 in four career appearances (three starts) against Atlanta. He lost his only start against the Braves this season despite allowing only three runs over seven innings on May 24.
"It's been ups and downs," Mikolas said. "Maybe if I had pulled my weight a little bit more toward the beginning of the season, maybe we would have locked this up a week ago. That's how baseball is. Ups and downs. It's been a learning year. Frustrating at times. Enjoyable at times."
Health is an issue for both teams.
Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong has been out since Sept. 19, when he straining his left hamstring running the bases, but he is expected to be in the starting lineup, manager Mike Shildt said. Right-hander Michael Wacha is not in the NLDS rotation because of a shoulder injury.
The Braves are banking that first baseman Freddie Freeman (right elbow) and center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (hip) will be back to full strength. Acuna had one at-bat in the final week of the season. Outfielder Ender Inciarte, out since Aug. 17 with a right hamstring issue, has been ruled out.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 2, 2019