The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals have both made the playoffs each of the past four seasons and will look to their No. 5 starters on Tuesday in their quest to get back to the playoffs once again.
Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals (-140, 9)
The Braves are giving 24-year-old pitcher Dylan Dodd his first career MLB start after progressing through the Braves’ minor league system last season.
Between all minor league teams from A+ through Triple-A last season, Dodd posted a 3.36 ERA with 9.6 strikeouts and two walks per nine innings and showed in spring training that he is ready for the big stage. Across five appearances and three starts during the spring, Dodd surrendered just four runs in 18 innings with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of five.
Behind Dodd, the Braves provide a lineup that is relatively unchanged from a season ago that ranked third in MLB in runs per game and first in home runs.
Veteran Steven Matz gets the start for the Cardinals and will look to tame the Braves offense. He is beginning his quest for his first season with an ERA below 3.82 since 2016 while keeping the ball in the yard has been the biggest reason for his struggles.
Matz has allowed at least 1.5 home runs per nine innings in five of the past six seasons and is coming off an injury-riddled 2022 campaign in which he logged 10 starts. He was sent to the bullpen when he returned from injury in September after posting a 5.70 ERA as a starting pitcher.
The Cardinals back up Matz with the lesser of the two bullpens in this game with the Braves ranking fourth in the league in bullpen ERA last season while the Cardinals rank 11th. The only major offseason move for either bullpen is the Braves not retaining Kenley Jansen, who had 41 saves in 48 chances last season.
The Braves have a good track record of developing starting pitchers with Max Fried and Spencer Strider finding success. With a strong bullpen and lineup behind him, Dodd will lead the Braves to a victory in his debut.
The Play: Braves +120