Jordan Montgomery has become the talk of baseball over the past three weeks. The Cardinals’ middle-rotation piece from the deadline has quickly turned into the team’s ace, making Yankee fans everywhere cringe every five days.
He’ll battle Charlie Morton and the red-hot defending World Series champions. If it weren’t for the Mets, the Braves would be playing over .700 ball at the moment.
Which team has the edge?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Saturday’s matchup.
Atlanta Braves vs St. Louis Cardinals Odds
These odds are probably fair, but it depends on how you value Charlie Morton.
“Ground Chuck” has lost his fastball – or ability to force ground balls. He’s been below average this season after years of dominance, and it’s hurt the Braves’ ability to keep up with the Mets.
However, Morton’s numbers have come around, so perhaps he’s worth a look as an underdog.
Of course, we need to take into account the lineups, bullpens, and defense. But these are two equally matched teams in almost all three areas.
This is shaping up to be a very entertaining ballgame, but one that will be tough to find value. Let’s investigate further.
Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup
RF R. Acuna R
SS D. Swanson R
3B A. Riley R
1B M. Olson L
DH W. Contreras R
LF R. Grossman S
C T. d’Arnaud R
2B V. Grissom R
CF M. Harris L
Atlanta Braves vs Jordan Montgomery
Montgomery as a Yankee this season:
- 21 starts, 114 ⅔ innings, 5 ⅓ innings per start, 3.69 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 7.6 K/9
Montgomery as a Cardinal this season:
- Four starts, 25 ⅔ innings, 6 ⅓ innings per start, 0.35 ERA, 1.72 FIP, 8.4 K/9
Jordan Montgomery as a Cardinal:
0 Earned Runs
Money Mo. pic.twitter.com/QQsEx5Glgm
— Jacob (@CardinalsReek) August 13, 2022
Players must hate playing for the Yankees. Montgomery has been a Cy Young candidate with St. Louis and Joey Gallo has a 176 wRC+ with the Dodgers.
Weird things happen in baseball.
I have no explanation for what is happening with Montgomery. His velocity has stayed pretty even alongside his spin rates and exit velocities. The barrel rate on his fastball has dropped significantly, but the sample size is rather small.
Montgomery is just locked in. He just finished up a one-hit shutout against the Cubs, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
JORDAN MONTGOMERY 1 HIT COMPLETE GAME SHUTOUT pic.twitter.com/YUR6ZJUvED
— AT (@YankeeWRLD) August 23, 2022
Montgomery has faced a relatively easy schedule, however. He’s shut down three fairly pathetic lineups in Chicago, Colorado, and Milwaukee. He did throw five shutout innings against the Yankees (karma), but that was during the Yankees’ death spiral.
The Braves will be a totally different animal. Nobody has more barrels this season than Atlanta, and only the Blue Jays have a higher hard-hit rate. The Braves now have five guys in their regular nine-man lineup with an OPS+ better than 120, led by Austin Riley’s 146.
Plus, the Braves murder southpaws. They have a 129 wRC+ against the left side over the past month and a 118 on the season.
St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
RF L. Nootbaar L
3B B. Donovan L
1B P. Goldschmidt R
DH N. Gorman L
SS P. DeJong R
CF D. Carlson S
LF T. O’Neill R
C Y. Molina R
2B T. Edman S
St. Louis Cardinals vs Charlie Morton
Morton is on pace to post a ground-ball rate under 40% for the first time in his career. His 38.9% number represents a 10% dropoff from 2021 and a 15% dropoff from his career-high in 2016.
Morton still manages to strike out plenty of batters, having posted a K/9 nearing 11 this season. And that curveball looks as pretty as ever.
Charlie Morton, Pretty 82mph Back Door Curveball. 😍
17 inches of horizontal break.
3,128 RPMs. 9th K. pic.twitter.com/QKlpGhFhZg
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 21, 2022
But with the stark decrease in his ability to force ground balls, he’s posted just a 3.99 ERA this year.
However, Morton did get unlucky early in the season and positive regression has come. Since his ERA skyrocketed to 5.67 in mid-June, Morton has pitched to a 2.64 ERA over the last 12 starts. He’s also averaging 6 ⅓ innings per start during the stretch.
Surprisingly, the Braves are just 6-6 in those contests, while Morton has posted a personal 2-2 record.
And I don’t know how you beat the Cardinals right now. They’re 18-5 in August and 22-9 in the second half, now having amassed a six-game divisional lead over Milwaukee. Their wRC+ against RHPs is a whopping 150 over the past 30 days, and they’re even stronger against southpaws.
Feel free to target Paul Goldschmidt every which way tonight and into the future. The 34-year-old (turning 35 in two weeks) is the sure-fire MVP, having slashed .383/.469/.790 in August for a 1.260 OPS. Goldschmidt has cashed his total bases prop in 17 of his last 30 games, and he’s amassed an absurd 36 bases over his last 10 games.
If things weren’t going perfect for the Cardinals already, Albert Pujols has found his stroke again. Nobody has a higher wRC+ than Big Al’s 318 over the past two weeks, as he’s homered six times in that span. The only other MLB player with six home runs over the last two weeks is … Paul Goldschmidt.
Atlanta Braves vs St. Louis Cardinals Pick & Prediction
My picks: Over 7.5 (+100 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
These offenses are far too hot to ignore. And this line seems suspiciously low.
The total being set under 8 feels like a Montgomery respect line. But he hasn’t faced a lineup like Atlanta’s in his tenure with the Cardinals. He’s due for a letdown start after a ridiculous four-start stretch. You can only hold off regression for so long.
If the numbers indicate anything, they indicate that St. Louis is going to destroy Morton.
Plus, St. Louis and Atlanta both rank around league-average in reliever xFIP. So, the bullpens are not immune to late-inning runs.
The under has hit in four straight games between these two, but it’s time for some regression the other way.